The vice president and managing director of Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset, Pier Silvio Berlusconi, has proposed the introduction of an advertising cap on its main rival, public broadcaster RAI.
In an interview for daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, he pointed out that RAI is a “hybrid” broadcaster, living off both the TV licence fee and advertising, a situation “distorts the market and subtracts resources from a sector that is already in difficulty”.
Berlusconi believes that the solution is a “very tight advertising cap”, which would benefit the whole market, including print media and smaller media groups. He added that this is not a question of limiting competition, as Mediaset has already shown that it can stand up to competition from both RAI and international media giants like Murdoch.
According to Berlusconi, Italy has more FTA channels than in all the other European countries, with competition literally exploding, while the advertising market, since the beginning of the crisis, has dropped from €10 billion to just over €6 billion. Although there are perhaps too many FTA channels, he believes that general entertainment TV remains “irreplaceable” and its attractiveness to the public and advertising investors “will never wane”.
He pointed out that, despite increased competition, Mediaset has grown both in terms of ratings and advertising market shares, with its flagship channel, Canale 5, achieving a 17 per cent audience share over 24 hours, making it the market leader.
Regarding the pay-TV segment, Berlusconi stressed that “Premium’s defensive mission has been successful, as satellite TV subscriptions have been frozen for years”. That said, he admits that classic pay-TV with dozens of channels is in difficulty, adding that OTT platforms, based on the model “see everything at discounted prices”, will eventually crush it. Although pay-TV operators could live from sports events, the competition from telecom operators makes the cost of sporting events exorbitant.
Berlusconi confirmed that Mediaset will take part in the auction for the Italian Serie A TV rights, as he believes that a monopoly of Sky Italia “would be harmful for both teams and viewers”. He also said that Mediaset will not reduce investments in content, especially Italian movies, TV series and programmes.