The face of Italian television is set to be altered forever, as the two most high-profile bidders in the sale of Telecom Italia Media's assets withdrew from the bidding. What that means is that whoever wins the bidding will be a new player in the rapidly growing Italian small screen marketplace.
Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset withdrew from the bidding for La 7, the smallest of Italy’s seven national television networks, MTV-Italia, and a multiplex broadcasting infrastructure. Mediaset's bid was considered a long-shot at best, as antitrust regulations would play a role in the sale. Mediaset already owns three of the Italian national networks.
More suprising was Sky-Italia, the satellite broadcaster controlled by Rupert Murdock's News Corps, saying it never had an interest in acquiring Telecom Italia Media's holdings.
“The company's CEO Andrea Zappia clarified in June that Sky's expression of interest was limited to gaining access to Telecom Italia Media’s financial data and that it had no intention of buying the company,” their statement read.
This leaves approximately 12 companies still interested. But with these two heavyweights out of the picture and the cash-strapped state broadcaster RAI not interested, Italian TV is going to see a new player.
La 7 controls around 4.5 percent of Italy’s national television audience. Still, the sale is expcted to draw at least $300 million for Telecom Italia, the former telephone monopoly looking to pay down debt and focus on its core telephone business. Telecom Italia Media is believed to have at least $250 million in outstanding debt.
The remaining favorites are the Discovery Channel and 3-Italia, a mobile phone company.