Apart from the continuous trend of audience shares decrease, the Italian market is still highly concentrated between the two main operators: the public service broadcaster RAI and the private group Mediaset, which hold together 87.2% of the market share of free to air television, which represents a unique situation in Europe. The sum of the audience shares of these two operators in 2012 reached 72.6%, while the channels operated by Sky Italia obtained a 5.4% share and those run by Telecom Italia Media reached 3.9%. (Audience data source : Eurodata TV Worldwide / Auditel / AGB Nielsen Media Research Italy).
This company, during the first months of 2013, decided to sell the two channels La7 and La7D to the Cairo Communication Group, which then created a new company, “La7 s.r.l.”, in order to run them. The Mediaset group controls 44 Italian channels. It also has assets in Spain: in addition to the channel Telecinco, it took control of Cuatro in 2010 and acquired a 22% stake in the satellite operator Digital+. In Tunisia, it has a stake in the channel Nessma TV. 21st Century Fox, through its subsidiaries Sky Italia and Fox Italia, operates more than 90 channels in Italy, 25 of which target other countries. The subsidiary Fox International also broadcasts channels to Germany, the Benelux countries and the Baltic countries.
Regarding distribution, Italy is a country historically characterised by the predominance of the reception of terrestrial transmissions. The analogue switch-off throughout the country was completed on 4 July 2012, the last regions being Abruzzo, Molise, Apulia, Basilicata and Sicily. According to the national regulator AGCOM, the digital terrestrial platform has 84.4% of the audience share. The DTT network is currently made up of fifteen multiplexes offering a large number of free and paid channels, including over forty free-to-air channels and some fifty paid channels. These are higher figures than those of other European markets. In addition to the national channels, more than 200 stations were available free of charge on local DTT in the first semester of 2013.
Two national pay-tv platforms and several other regional platforms coexist in Italy. The market leader is the Mediaset Premium platform (Mediaset group), which provides pay-per-view football channels, film channels and children’s channels. Mediaset claimed to have 2.9 million subscribers as at 30 September 2011 (compared with 3.9 million at 31 December 2010). In addition to the thirty or so channels that it transmits, Mediaset Premium has offered the on-demand television service Premium on Demand since November 2009 (rebranded as Premium Play in 2011) and offers 2000 programmes on demand, some of them in HD or 3D, as well as catch-up television services. The second platform is operated by Centro Europa 7, which in October 2010 launched a package of a dozen channels transmitted in the DVBT2 standard under the name Europa 7 HD.
As for the allocation of the frequencies that the switch off has released, AGCOM, after a public consultation and based on the results of discussions with the European Commission, deliberated on April 2013 the final regulation on the auction procedure for three multiplexes. This has been sent to the Ministry of Economic Development who is in charge of the call for tender and the allocation procedure. Three-quarters of Italian homes still depended on the terrestrial reception of television services at the end of 2011.
The non-terrestrial multichannel platform market is not very competitive in Italy. In the absence of a cable network, the country relies on satellite television and IPTV. At the end of May 2013, AGCOM’s register of satellite licences contained 259 channels. The satellite TV market is mainly controlled by Sky Italia (21st Century Fox), whose number of subscribers has nonetheless declined from the 5 million of 2011 since to reach 4.57 million at the end of April 2013. Modelled on the Freesat package in the UK, TivùSat, and run by the company Tivù S.r.l. – which is owned 48% by RAI, 48% by Mediaset and 4% by Telecom Italia - offers free access to the Italian free-to-air DTT channels. The package had gained over 1.5 million subscribers by April 2013.
The already limited broadband TV market (IPTV) collapsed in 2012. Fastweb, which had pioneered this form of distribution in Europe, closed its service in November 2012, after announcing in September 2011 that it had 240 000 subscribers. Wind also closed its Infostrada TV service in June 2012, so the only provider still operating in this segment is Telecom Italia.
The four judgements of the Consiglio di Stato (Italian High Administrative Court) of August 2012, declaring void the logical channel numbering plan (LCN) for digital terrestrial television, led to the adoption of a new plan in March 2013, after a public consultation and a survey conducted on the habits and preferences of the viewers. The positions currently in use will be kept until the allocation of new numbers, decided from the Ministry of Economic Development, and eventually be maintained if coherent with the new plan. To avoid problems for the users, the automatic re-tuning will take place during one single day all over the country. The Plan will be re-examined every two years in order to evaluate its compatibility with the technological and market development and with the users’ habits.
According to law no. 44/2012, starting from 2015 every set-top box and TV will need to be compatible with DVB-T2 standard. In order to ease this transition, AGCOM set up a technical board in which all the interested stakeholders will participate with the aim of seeking shared solutions.
On 18 July 2013 the Court of Justice of the European Union decided on a case deriving from a plea filed by Sky against an AGCOM decision, regarding the hourly television advertising limits under Italian Law. This lays down lower hourly television advertising limits for pay-TV broadcasters than those laid down for free-to-air TV broadcasters. The Court deemed that Member States have the option to lay down more detailed or stricter rules and, in certain cases, different conditions, provided they comply with European Union law. The directive on audiovisual media services (2010/13/EU) recommends that television advertising spots are to be limited to no more than 20%, but it does not preclude the Member States from imposing different limits within that maximum amount, as long as the national rules are observing the principle of equal treatment, leaving this aspect to the decision of the Italian Administrative Court.
On 22 February 2013, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities adopted a decree defining the notion of “cinematographic work of original Italian expression” and specifying the transmission time and investment sub-quotas that broadcasters under Italian jurisdiction have to reserve to them.
This description was last updated in October 2013, along with channels and line-ups of operators. Changes to channel offers are continuously updated.