Yesterday, on a walkabout on the set of a costume drama set in ancient Rome being filmed in the famous Cinecitta studios, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose family controls Mediaset, said Italy will float at least 20% of state broadcaster RAI by next March.
"At least 20% of RAI will be listed on the bourse by March," said Berlusconi, putting to rest months of industry speculation.
Since its creation 50 years ago, RAI has been the subject of government interference and corporate governance experts had said that the government should sell of 20-25% of the network to allow it more independence.
The Italian government has already paved the way for the RAI sell-off in a media law approved by parliament in April. Under the terms of the law, no-one will be able to take more than a 1% stake in the company.
RAI closed the first six months of the year with a net profit of €82m up 80% on the first half of 2003. Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore has estimated RAI, which also includes radio and digital television channels, is worth close to €6bn.
Berlusconi's Mediaset TV network is in direct competition with three of the terrestrial channels run by RAI. But analysts are saying that the partial privatisation of RAI would ease concerns over a potential conflict between Berlusconi's political power and family business interests.
Lovelacemedia | 29.09.2004