November 28, 2006

Murdoch's Gotcha
“And to think that Murdoch was once a conservative.”
- Silvio Berlusconi
The new Prodi government in Italy has proposed new media laws which could weaken Berlusconi's control of Italian television. And Rupert Murdoch's Sky Italia (Italy’s sole satellite provider) looks set to be the big winner.

From the NYT:
In the past, Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Murdoch dined together and would collaborate on blockbuster deals [e.g. the Iraq War: gandhi]. Now they take jabs at each other through the press...

In last spring’s elections, Sky Italia played a subtle yet effective role by offering itself as a third-party news alternative to Italy’s traditional stations, which are notoriously beholden to Italy’s various political forces. And Mr. Prodi recently gave Sky an exclusive half-hour interview, later explaining that Sky was the only outlet that would give him the time and balance he needed.

Sky Italia declined to comment, but in a statement said it supported the new media law and any initiative that opened up the television marketplace. And in recent earning reports, Mr. Murdoch has singled out Sky Italia for special praise, noting that it has emerged as one of the News Corporation’s most profitable divisions.
So when media laws are relaxed, as in Australia, Murdoch wins. But when media laws are tightened, as in Italy, Murdoch wins again.


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