From Branislav Pekic in Rome
Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset has for the first time surpassed RAI in terms of turnover thanks mainly to revenue from pay-TV.
In 2008, Mediaset's turnover was up 9 per cent to E3.27 billion, while the public broadcaster saw a drop of 0.7 per cent to E3.21 billion. Additionally, RAI is expected to register a loss of E210 million in 2010 that will increase to E600 million by 2012.
Key strategic decisions have certainly contributed to such a negative result â€“ the option to give up on a potential revenue source such as pay-TV and the decision to renounce the E50 million per year paid by Sky Italia for the package of 4 RaiSat thematic channels.
RAI is also faced with the problem of TV license fee evaders, estimated at 28 per cent out of a total of 16 million Italians. Last but not least, RAI's labour costs are E580 million higher than those of Mediaset.