From Branislav Pekic in Rome
Italy's Communications Authority (AgCom) has initiated an investigation on the number of digital terrestrial TV channels operated by the broadcasters in respect of the quota of 20 per cent per group.
According to an initial inquiry, it emerges that commercial broadcaster Mediaset accounts for 14 out of the 42 national DTT channels, representing a 33.3 per cent share. If the Studio Universal and Steel channels are excluded, as they are not owned by the group but are carried on the Mediaset Premium pay-TV service, Mediaset's share of the Italian DTT market would drop to 28 per cent. Public broadcaster RAI is below the 20 per cent limit, as it operates only 8 TV channels.
For its part, Mediaset claims that the existing regulations are unfair because they use an arbitrary standard to determine a dominant position on the Italian TV market. Mediaset vice-president, Pier Silvio Berlusconi, has even gone as far as to announce the launch of yet-another Mediaset channel, Italia 2, which will launch by the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. The DTT channel will be free-to-air and mainly aimed at a younger audience.