Television in Italy

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Television in Italy was introduced in 1939, when the first experimental broadcasts began. However, this lasted for a very short time: when fascist Italy entered World War II in 1940 all transmissions were interrupted, and were resumed in earnest only nine years after the end of the conflict, on January 3, 1954.

There are two main national television organisations responsible for most viewing: state-owned RAI, accounting for 37% of the total viewing figures in May 2014,[1] and Mediaset, a commercial network which holds about 33%.[1] The third largest player, the Italian branch of Discovery Communications, had a viewing share of 5.8%.[1] Apart from these three free to air companies, News Corporation's satellite pay tv platform Sky Italia is increasing in viewing and shares.[citation needed]

As with all the other media of Italy, the Italian television industry is widely considered both inside and outside the country to be overtly politicized.[2] Unlike the BBC which is controlled by an independent trust, the public broadcaster RAI is under direct control of the government. According to a December 2008 poll, only 24% of Italians trusted television news programmes, compared unfavourably to the British rate of 38%, making Italy one of only three examined countries where online sources are considered more reliable than television ones for information.[3][4]

Digital terrestrial television[edit]

Digital terrestrial television technology is expanding rapidly and now every major network in Italy,—including RAI, Mediaset and Cairo Communication—transmits in DVB-T format, while continuing analog broadcast until the end of the transition, originally set by law to December 31, 2006 but later pushed back to the end of 2012.[5]

The Berlusconi II Cabinet started promoting the digital format in December 2003 by granting a public financial contribution for the purchase of a MHP digital television decoder. Starting from January 2005 Mediaset and Telecom Italia Media started offering pay TV services through a prepaid smartcard, including football games, movies and TV shows. On February 2006, during the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Turin, RAI experimentally broadcast a number of sport events using a 1080i signal and H264 coding. The HD signal has been transmitted over the Turin area, using DVB-T hierarchical modulation, and only specially crafted decoders have been able to receive this signal: they were placed in strategical points in the town.

During the UEFA Euro 2008 and the 2008 Summer Olympics, RAI started experimental High Definition broadcasting on Rai Test HD, available only in Turin, Milan, Rome, Sardinia and Aosta Valley, continuing with the 2008 UCI Road World Championships and a few matches of the UEFA Champions League. In July 2008 the European Commission's directorate for competition expressed concerns on whether the actions taken by the current Italian government would be able to alter the current status of duopoly in the broadcasting market held by RAI and Mediaset.[6] Beginning October 31, 2008, in the first region of Italy planned to interrupt analog transmission, Sardinia, television networks broadcast multiplexes only in digital format. Licence fee payers from the region were entitled to a 50 euros discount off the price of a digital television decoder or a new, digital-compatible TV set.[7]

Satellite television[edit]

Italy has had digital satellite broadcasts since 1997, with the launch of Stream TV and TELE+. In 2003 these merged into SKY Italia, today this pay TV platform is broadcasting from Hotbird satellites. HDTV regular services started in June 2006 under the name SKY HD, with the broadcasting of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in High Definition. Additional movie and sport channels are planned for the service. Tivù Sat, a Free Satellite Service similar to the UK version Freesat, was launched in June 2009, ensuring access to national television channels from digital terrestrial television networks. Shareholders include Mediaset, Telecom Italia Media and the State Owned Company RAI.[8]

Cable television[edit]

Italy currently has the lowest percentage (less than 1%) of transmissions from cable television of almost all of the world's developed countries.[citation needed]

In the 1960s the public television network RAI was a monopoly and the only network authorized to broadcast in Italy. Giuseppe Sacchi, a former RAI editor, launched on April 21, 1971 the first "free" television station, called Telebiella and based in Biella. It started to broadcast on April 6, 1972, devoted primarily to news and information. Immediately the government led by Giulio Andreotti forced Sacchi to dismantle Telebiella. Later a new law was issued to regulate and allow cable broadcasting, although with tight limitations:[9] only one cable system for every city and only one TV channel for each system. Cable television remained undeveloped for many years, with the exception of a few amateur projects. In the 1990s, first Telecom Italia and then FASTWEB created Optical fiber networks and launched their IPTV offers (however associated with SKY Italia or Mediaset Premium subscriptions). IPTV was the only service to offer Video On Demand up until 2009.

Pay television providers[edit]

Current providers[edit]

  • CUBOVISION (Telecom Italia), with almost 500,000 households (transmission: IPTV)
  • EUROPA 7 HD (Centro Europa 7 srl), unknown households (transmission: DTT)
  • MEDIASET PREMIUM (Mediaset), with more than 3 million households (transmission: DTT; IPTV)
  • SKY ITALIA (BSKYB), with about 5 million households (transmission: DTH; IPTV)

Defunct providers[edit]

  • DAHLIA TV (Airplus TV) (transmission: IPTV)
  • FASTWEB TV (Fastweb) (transmission: IPTV)
  • INFOSTRADA TV (Infostrada) (transmission: IPTV)
  • TISCALI TV (Tiscali) (transmission: IPTV)

List of nationwide television stations[edit]

Most important all national free-to-view channels[edit]

All channels broadcast 24 hours, are in 16:9 SDTV format and also FTA ond digital satellite. (In the brackets the EPG No.).

The channels from 10 to 19 are made available for Italian regional television. They are not the same for every part of Italy, but change from one geographical area to another.


RAI — Radiotelevisione italiana (logo).svg
  • RAI 1 (001), was established in 1954 as the primary station of RAI, the national public service broadcasting network, with both public and commercial financing. It is a generalist channel, mainly focused on shows, important events and festivals, entertainment, movies, Italian fiction, news and public service; its direct competitor is Mediaset's Canale 5.
  • RAI 2 (002) was founded in 1961 as the second nationwide public channel. It is focused on shows, tv series, news, documentary and factual entertainment.
  • RAI 3 (003), started in 1979 as the third public station focused on regional issues. Its programs are typically oriented to information, rather than entertainment, and they look for a qualitative approach, instead of seeking higher TV ratings.
  • RAI 4 (021), entertainment, tv series and movies.
  • RAI 5 (023), cultured-oriented entertainment, documentaries.
  • RAI MOVIE (024), movies.
  • RAI PREMIUM (025), the best of RAI's past programs (shows, Italian dramas and series, talk shows).
  • RAI GULP (042), teen/children.
  • RAI YOYO (043), teen/children.
  • RAI NEWS (048), all news.
  • RAI STORIA (054), documentaries focused on history.
  • RAI SPORT 1 (057), sport and sport news.
  • RAI SPORT 2 (058), sport and sport news.
  • RAI SCUOLA (146), educational.
  • RAI HD (501), RAI's programs in HD (to convert in RAI 3D).


  • RETE 4 (004), is the third commercial station belonging to the Mediaset group. It was founded in 1982 by the Mondadori group. It was the third channel to join the Canale 5 network in 1984, in order to create a three-network-broadcasting-system able to compete with RAI's three channel block. It focuses on movies, sports, tv series and information.
  • CANALE 5 (005), the major private television channel in the country owned by Mediaset. It was founded in 1978 as Telemilano Canale 58 but started to have a national range in 1980. It is RAI 1's direct competitor and focuses on variety shows, reality shows, Italian series, news, movies and game shows.
  • ITALIA 1 (006), the second commercial television channel owned by Mediaset. It is oriented mainly at young people. It was launched in 1982 by the Rusconi group but soon merged with Canale 5 in order to create a strong commercial franchise previously known as Finivest group and later called Mediaset. It is focused on American TV series, cartoons, light entertainment, movies, sports.
  • IRIS (022), movies and TV series, cultured-oriented programs.
  • LA 5 (030), TV series, movies, entertainment, reality shows, female-oriented channel.
  • MEDIASET EXTRA (034), cult shows of the past and the present from Mediaset channels.
  • ITALIA 2 (035), TV series, movies, entertainment, cartoons, sports, music, male-oriented channel.
  • TOP CRIME (039), crime.
  • BOING (040), teen/children.
  • CARTOONITO (046), teen/children.
  • TGCOM24 (051), all news.

Cairo Communication[edit]

  • LA 7 (007), the main station previously owned by Telecom Italia Media and now property of Cairo Communications, considered as the third major network in the country. It was founded in 2001 (it was previously known as TMC - Tele Monte Carlo). It is a private channel focused on information, politics, cultured-oriented programs, news and also entertainment. Its ratings are increasing due to the arrival of the most popular anchorman in Italy, Enrico Mentana, as the editor-in-chief of the channel's news TG La7.
  • LA 7D (029), women infotainment, light entertainment, movies, TV series, La 7 reviews.

Discovery Communications[edit]

Discovery Communications.svg
  • REAL TIME (031), lifestyle programs, dedicated to a female audience.
  • GIALLO (038), crime movies and TV series.
  • K2 (041), teen/children.
  • FRISBEE (044), teen/children.
  • DMAX (052), lifestyle programs, dedicated to a male audience.
  • FOCUS (056), documentaries.

Gruppo De Agostini[edit]

  • SUPER! (047), teen/children.
  • DeaKits (601) (Satellite platform - Sky Bouquet), teen/children
  • DeaJunior (610) (Satellite platform - Sky Bouquet), teen/children.
  • DeaSapere (420) (Satellite platform - Sky Bouquet), Documentaries/Sciences.

Television Broadcasting System[edit]

  • RETECAPRI (020), the only private nationwide station based in the south of the country. It was founded in 1982 and focuses on commercial programs, classical movies and TV series.
  • RADIO CAPRI TELEVISION (866), music.
  • CAPRI STORE (122), home shopping.

Viacom Media Networks[edit]

  • MTV (008), free-to-air channel dedicated to music and youth entertainment. It is the Italian version of the popular American 24hour music channel. Available since 1997, it airs TV series, cartoons, music shows, reality TV shows and light entertainment programs focused on a young target demographic.
  • MTV MUSIC (067), 24 hour music and youth entertainment.

Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso[edit]

  • DEE JAY TV (009), it was launched in 2009 replacing All Music channel, and focuses on music and light entertainment shows.
  • LA EFFE - REPUBBLICA TV (050), news, information, TV series, movies, documentaries.
  • RADIO CAPITAL TV (069) music vintage.
  • DEEJAY TV +1 (109), time shift version of Deejay TV.

Guido Veneziani Editore[edit]

  • VERO CAPRI (055), female channel: entertainment, movies, soap opera.
  • VERO (137), all entertainment.
  • VERO CAPRI +1 (144), time shift version of Vero Capri.


  • CANALE 60 (060), sport.
  • CANALE 61 (061), sport.
  • CANALE 62 (062), sport.
  • ALICE (221), cooking.
  • LEONARDO (222), houses and style.
  • MARCOPOLO (223), travel and adventure.
  • NUVOLARI (224), sport and motors.

News Corp[edit]

  • CIELO (026), movies, TV series, reality shows, game shows, light entertainment, news simulcasting Sky TG24.

Other Channels[edit]

  • CLASS TV (027), news, economic, finance and movie channel. Owned by Class Editori.
  • TV2000 (028), talk shows, documentaries, movies and series tv focused on religion. Owned by CEI (Italian Episcopal Conference).
  • QVC (032), home shopping. Owned by QVC.
  • RTL 102.5 (036), music. Owned by Radio Tele Lombardia 102.5.
  • HSE24 (037), home shopping. Owned by HSE24.
  • NEKO TV (045), Japanese manga and anime culture, videogames. Owned by Neko Tv.
  • FILE LIVING (049), factual entertainment channel: Design & Décor, Food & Drink and Travel & Adventure. Owned by Scripps Networks Interactive.
  • WINGA TV (063), casino channel.
  • SUPER TENNIS (064) 24-hour tennis channel.
  • ACQUA TV (065) water sports and documentaries. Owned by Giglio Group.
  • PLAY.ME (068) music. Owned by Giglio Group.
  • RADIO ITALIA TV (070), music. Owned by Gruppo Radio Italia.
  • GOLD TV ITALIA (128), generalist. Owned by Profit Group.
  • AB CHANNEL (131), generalist. Owned by Digitmedia.
  • LA 3 (134), entertainment and lifestyle. Owned by H3G Italy.
  • TELE PADRE PIO (145), religious channel. Owned by Fondazione Voce di Padre Pio.
  • ODEON 24 (177), generalist channel. Owned by Bravo Produzioni Televisive S.r.l.

Foreign Channels[edit]

  • FRANCE 24
  • NHK
  • TVE


  • 7 Gold: launched in 2000 as "Italia 7 Gold", changed name in 2003; airs movies, sport debates and old TV series;
  • Canale Italia: launched in 1976 as "Serenissima TV", changed name in 2004; airs entertainment shows, music and dance programmes (with the channel Canale Italia Musica), home shopping shows and classical movies. Also available on digital satellite and digital terrestrial;
  • Cinquestelle: launched in 1988; reduced coverage up to 2011;
  • Elefante Tv: launched in 1976 as "Tvs Telexpress" and later as "Tele Ciocco", it broadcast from Barga near Lucca, in Tuscany, but closed in 1990.
  • Euro TV: launched in 1982, but closed in late 1987 and split in half, becoming "Odeon" and "Italia 7";
  • Europa 7: launched in 1999, it commenced broadcast only in October 2010 after a long legal battle between the owner and the State;
  • GPE - Telemond: launched in 1979, it was the syndication of publisher Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, owner of early Rete 4 before the Mediaset era, it closed on late 1981;
  • Italia 7: launched in 1987 from some local television stations that were previously affiliated to "Euro TV", it was initially managed by the Fininvest group, and later by the same owner of future Europa 7, it closed in 1999;
  • Junior Tv: launched in 1985, aired animated sit-coms, anime for children, but closed in 2003;
  • K2: launched in 2004, airs cartoons for children, it is also available on number 041 on DTT;
  • Odeon: launched in 1987 from some local television stations that were previously affiliated to "Euro TV". The group also includes the channels TLC Telecampione launched in 1982 and TeleReporter launched in 1977 as "Tele Radio Reporter", "Telereporter-Canale 7" between 2002-2004;
  • Pan Tv: launched in 1984, closed in 1989;
  • Primarete Indipendente: launched in 1980, it was the syndication of publisher Rizzoli-Corriere della Sera media company and closed in 1981;
  • Rete A: launched in 1983 and owned by "Gruppo Editoriale Peruzzo", it aired telenovelas, TV programmes, and home shopping shows and later was targeted towards a young public (the network's owner was agreed with MTV Italy from 1997 to 2001), it was one of the first TV channels, among national private television stations, to broadcast news (made by former RAI journalist Emilio Fede), and after changing name several times closed in 2004 with All Music as its successor;
  • Rete Mia: launched in 1988 and owned by Giorgio Mendella, it aired home shopping and TV auctions but closed in 2000 with H.O.T. TV Italia as its successor;
  • Retecapri: launched in 1982, it is owned by TBS and it airs Japanese anime, TV series, movies, information and news programmes, it is also available on number 020 on DTT;
  • Supersix: launched in 1988 aired mainly Japanese anime, but closed in 2008;
  • Telemarket: launched in 1982 and owned by Giorgio Corbelli, it airs TV auctions and home shopping shows and is available on number 124 on DTT;
  • Telemontecarlo: launched in 1974, it was based on local stations until 1990, when was passed a law which regulated national private channels, and it aired sport programmes, films, telefilms, tv series, and a prototype of private channel news programme with the journalist Indro Montanelli, whose programme had the same name of his newspaper Il Giornale, after changed many times owners it closed in 2001 to succede La7;
  • Telepace: launched in 1977 as a radio and, two years later, as a syndication, it is a religious channel and airs direct-to-videos holy masses, holy celebrations and Christian holidays, it is visible only in some regions and it broadcast from near Verona;
  • Televisione Cristiana in Italia: launched in 1979, it is a religious channel too and it was named previously TBNE (Trinity Broadcasting Network Europe), this channel is visible only in some regions too

Digital (Pay TV)[edit]

Mediaset Premium

Europa 7 HD

  • Fly
  • Sentimental HD
  • Horror HD
  • Classic HD
  • Action HD
  • Family HD

Digital Satellite Only (Free to air)[edit]

Most Viewed Channels[edit]

The Auditel measures television ratings in Italy. The two most watched channels are still Rai 1 and Canale 5 which together share 33% of the audience. Following these in terms of ratings are Rai 3 and Rai 2 with 14% of total share and finally a third group of stations made up of Italia 1 and Rete 4 which together reach 12% of tv ratings. Apart from the seventh ex analogue television La7 with a market share of 4%. All the six RAI and Mediaset generalist channels had a slightly lower daily audience in 2013 compared with previous years, while News Corporation's pay tv platform called Sky Italia (with its channels like Fox, Fox Crime, Sky Cinema and Sky Sport), nationwide channel La7 owned by Cairo Communication and several new free-to-air digital stations (like Giallo, Rai 4, IRIS, La5, Real Time, K2, Rai Premium, TOP Crime, Cielo, DMAX) are increasing in ratings day by day. The channels with a viewing share of >= 0.9% according to Auditel's measurements from January to December 2013 are:[10]

Position Channel Launch date Owner 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
1 Rai 1 1954 RAI 22.86 22.99 22.33 21.80 20.63 19.86 18.1 18.3 17.84
2 Canale 5 1980 Mediaset 21.82 20.96 20.67 20.33 20.50 18.78 17.0 15.9 14.95
3 Rai 3 1979 RAI 9.11 9.31 9.06 9.07 8.46 7.75 8.5 7.7 7.38
4 Rai 2 1961 RAI 11.29 11.27 10.38 10.60 8.90 9.02 8.3 7.6 6.77
5 Italia 1 1982 Mediaset 11.48 11.09 11.18 10.83 10.68 9.22 8.3 6.18 6.54
6 Rete 4 1982 Mediaset 8.63 8.22 8.68 8.28 7.47 6.79 6.7 5.42 5.03
7 La7 2001 Cairo Communication 2.71 3.02 2.97 3.08 3.18 3.06 3.82 3.68 3.76
8 Real Time 2005 Discovery Networks <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.09 1.4 1.53
9 Rai YoYo 2006 RAI N.E. <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.34
10 DMAX 2011 Discovery Networks N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. <0.90 <0.90 1.32
11 Iris 2007 Mediaset N.E. N.E. <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.26 1.31
12 Rai Premium 2003 RAI <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.25 1.14
13 TOP Crime 2013 Mediaset N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. 1.05
14 Rai 4 2008 RAI N.E. N.E. N.E. <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 0.98 1.1 0.96
15 Rai Movie 1999 RAI N.E. <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 0.92 0.95

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Sintesi Mensile 1A". Auditel. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Country profile: Italy". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  3. ^ Pidd, Helen (209-01-01). "Web worldwide: UK housewives love it, Chinese use it most, Danes are least keen". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ "Our new digital friend? We now trust online news as we trust TV and newspapers". TNS US. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  5. ^ "SWITCH OFF FOR 2012". 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2009-03-07. [dead link]
  6. ^ "EU wants Italy to clarify frequency distribution rules". Broadband TV News. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  7. ^ "Digitale Terrestre Parte in Sardegna lo switch-off" (in Italian). NonSoloCinema. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  8. ^ "RAI and Mediaset plan Italian freesat Broadband TV News". Broadband TV News. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  9. ^ "Legge 103/75 Nuove norme in materia di diffusione radiofonica e televisiva" (in Italian). Agcom. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  10. ^ "Auditel". Auditel. 

External links[edit]