Italian nets won't self-regulate


ROME -- Italy's Communications Authority on Monday formally rejected a proposal from Italy's three national broadcasters that would have allowed them to develop self-regulation codes for advertising content.

If accepted, the plan would have created a system of self-regulation in which broadcasters RAI, Mediaset and Telecom Italia Media could set their own limits on the quantity of advertising allowed for different types of programming, such as sports, news, game shows,or films. The change would have gone into effect Jan. 1.

State broadcaster RAI and Mediaset both own three national networks. Telecom Italia Media controls La 7, the smallest of Italy's seven national networks.

The rejection means that the Communications Authority will continue setting television advertising limits.

In November, two Mediaset networks were fined €625,000 ($830,000) for breaching rules limiting advertising during the screening of films on television.

The broadcaster reportedly incorporated brief news and weather breaks so that the program could be classified as news programming. News is a format that allows for extra ads.

Meanwhile, RAI said last week that it plans to discontinue advertising altogether on two of its three networks by the end of 2009. The slimmed down network budgets would survive on a special fee paid by television users -- a move that would free the networks from commercial concerns and ostensibly allow them to focus on improving the quality of programming.