RAI licence fee boosts Italian TV sector revenues

The RAI licence fee boosted revenues for the 5 major Italian broadcasters by 6.5 per cent to €9 billion in 2016, according to a study carried out by Mediobanca’s R&D division.

Of the total, free-to-air accounts for €5 billion (+9.8 per cent), pay-TV for €3.4 billion (+2.6 per cent) and radio for €0.6 million (+3.2 per cent).

The public broadcaster was the major beneficiary, with a 17.6 per cent revenue increase compared to 2015, resulting from the introduction of the TV licence fee on the electricity bill, which reduced the evasion rate from 30 to 6 per cent. As a result, RAI moved into first place in revenue terms (€2.78 billion), ahead of Sky Italia (€2.77 billion) and Mediaset (€2.61 billion). However, if the Spanish operation is taken into account, Mediaset had total revenues of €3.61 billion. The top 5 is rounded off by Discovery Italia (€238 million) and La7 (€103 million).

The TV licence fee in Italy is the lowest in Europe and yielded €1.9 billion to RAI in 2016 (+16.7 per cent), a figure set to drop to €1.8 billion in 2017, as a result of the drop in fee from €100 to €90. Mediobanca R&S estimates that this will mean that Sky Italia will end 2017 as the revenue leader on the Italian market.

Provisional data from the broadcasters for the first six months of 2017 shows that Mediaset (€1.82 billion) edged out RAI (€1.32 billion).

RAI accounted for 49.9 per cent of the revenues of the free-to-air segment in 2016, ahead of Mediaset (32.8 per cent), Discovery Italia (3.9 per cent), Cairo/La7 (2.8 per cent) and Sky Italia (1.4 per cent). In the pay-TV market, Sky Italia dominates with 77.1 per cent of the total, ahead of Mediaset (20.6 per cent).

During the period 2012-2016, the five main TV broadcasters had total losses of €1.3 billion. Discovery Italia was the only to close in the black (+€23 million) and, together with La7, ended 2016 without financial debt. Total investments in the five-year period were down by €99 million.

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