Mediaset chief's Rx for downturn: Capra

Says 'stories that foster optimism' will boost Italy's growth

ROME -- Mediaset wants Italians thinking happy thoughts. The broadcast giant told parliament Thursday that the nation's economic woes can be helped by a good dose of old-fashioned, optimistic films.

Fedele Confalonieri -- Mediaset's president and a close associate of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the broadcaster's controlling shareholder -- told parliament that the right dose of televised sunshine can play a role in curing what some legislators called an "economic malaise" gripping the country.

"Today we need stories in the Frank Capra style, stories that foster optimism," Confalonieri told parliament, referring to the Oscar-winning director of "It's a Wonderful Life," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "Pocketful of Miracles."

Confalonieri did not say whether Mediaset would begin scheduling more upbeat programming, and a spokesman for the company did not return phone calls.

Italy's economic growth has trailed that of the European Union as a whole in nine of the past 11 years, and the worldwide economic crisis has hit the country hard, resulting in eroding consumer confidence and spending cuts.
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