Italy's Media Sector Shrunk by 9.2 Percent in 2012

Getty Images
Itay's TV broadcast sector contracted for the third year in a row

According to the latest figures, 21st Century Fox's Sky Italia supplanted Mediaset as Italy's largest broadcaster by at least one key measure.

ROME -- AgCom, Italy’s media and telecommunications sector regulator, reported on Tuesday that the Italian media sector contracted for the third consecutive year in 2012, with revenue for the sector as a whole declining 9.2 percent to $20.6 billion (€15.7 billion).

Those figures include revenue of all types from television and radio broadcasters, online media and traditional publishing. The data are part of a wider report that also includes an examination of the telecommunications and postal sectors, which saw overall revenue decline to €61.4 billion ($80.4 billion), down from €65.8 billion ($86.2 billion) in 2011.

AgCom said the country’s weak economic growth, declining margins and a steady decline in ad buys were the main culprits in the declines.

One interesting side note is that, according AgCom figures, Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox’s Italian satellite TV firm Sky Italia surpassed Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset to become Italy’s largest broadcaster in terms of revenue. Sky Italia’s revenue last year was €2.63 billion ($3.45 billion), down 1.4 percent compared to 2011, while Mediaset checked in at €2.48 billion ($3.25 billion), down 13.2 percent year over year. But when looking at other measures -- total viewership and ad sales -- Mediaset remained on top.

The gap between Sky Italia and Mediaset has been shrinking for years.

State broadcaster RAI remains Italy's third-largest television broadcaster by most measures, though in terms of overall revenue connected to its free-to-air broadcasts, it leads the sector.

Earlier this year, Nielsen said Italy’s advertising market in 2012 was the weakest in more than two decades. But the sector is showing signs of recovery so far in 2013, and players say the sector could show positive growth for the year as a whole.

Twitter: @EricJLyman