From Branislav Pekic in Rome
The launch of DTT in Italy's Lombardy and Eastern Piedmont regions will be delayed from April to September. The Government aims to avoid the replication of the problems that occurred in Lazio last November. In view of the regional elections in March and the World Cup in South Africa the risk was too great that over 12 million Italians in the country's most populous regions would be left “in the dark”.
Meanwhile, many local TV channels in Lazio and Rome are at risk of closure. The combined effect of the economic crisis and the transition to DTT has put small broadcasters on their knees. The Analogue Switch Off has been taking place without clear rules on the positioning of the channels in the digital multiplexes, offering a privileged line-up for RAI and Mediaset and poor visibility for the others. The figures confirm this: RAI in particular, but also Mediaset, have seen a dramatic increase of viewers, while local channels have experienced a drop of around 10 per cent in audience.
According to some reports, Italian public broadcaster RAI is preparing a re-launch of its DTT offering, with a couple of new channels (including one in High Definition) plus a rebranding of the existing ones. The complete 12-channel line-up should be as follows: RaiUno, RaiDue, RaiTre, Rai4, Rai5 Extra, Rai Movie, RaiNews24, Rai Sport, Rai Sport2, RaiStoria, Yoyo, Gulp and Rai HD.