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ROME – Mediaset, the beleaguered media giant controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, continues to be the dominant factor in Italian television ad market according to the latest full-year prognostications for the sector released by Nielsen Friday.
In the latest figures, Mediaset’s three national networks owned 63 percent of the national television ad market, compared to just 23 percent for the three networks from Italian state broadcast RAI. The percentage of the market is about the same as the mid-year figures for Mediaset, but down 2 points for RAI. The remaining 14 percent of the ad market is controlled by La 7, the national network currently in the process of being sold by Telecom Italia Media, and an array of local broadcasters.
The trouble for Mediaset is that it owns a static share of a shrinking market, the main factor driving the company’s share price lower, touching new 52-week lows in the last two weeks.
The company, which owns three national television networks in Italy and one in Spain, has been trying to sell assets to raise cash. On Thursday, it announced it has sold more than 3,000 titles from its Medusa Home Video subsidiary to the local Warner Bros. unit, while is it also reported to be shopping its Mediaset Premium for-pay television service, and, along with partner Benetton, its interest in The Space Cinema exhibitor chain.
Sky-Italia, the satellite broadcaster that is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire, is not included in the figures because it relies on revenue from subscriptions rather than from ads.
Berlusconi, the company’s founder and controlling shareholder, has been facing legal troubles as well: in October he was sentenced to four years behind bars for tax evasion related to content deals at Mediaset. He denies any wrongdoing, and his attorneys have appealed the verdict. He is also on trial for paying an underage girl for sex and for abuse of power.
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