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Italia 1 was launched in January 1982 and, originally, was owned by Rusconi; after a few months, however, due to the aggressive dumping practices of Silvio Berlusconi's rival network Canale 5, Rusconi was forced to sell the majority of his company to Fininvest, allowing Berlusconi to further strengthen his media holdings.
Launch and Management Edilio Rusconi (1982-1983)
Launched January 3, 1982 by print media editor Edilio Rusconi, Italia 1 was born from the idea of a network supported by twenty regional broadcasting stations, some owned by Rusconi himself and others simply affiliated to broadcast throughout Italian territory on the ‘ploy’ of interconnection. The lead broadcasting station is Milan-based Antenna Nord, but Rome’s Quinta Rete also has an important role. Lillo Tombolini is the executive director. The channel’s presenter is a young Gabriella Golia, who was already the face of Antenna Nord. Rusconi’s growing national channel starts its programming at noon, with a segment dedicated to children, during which various anime series are broadcast, like Lady Oscar and Lalabel, as well as successful original television series, like Star Trek, then in the early afternoon air-time is given to region-specific broadcasts, later restarting the national broadcast with more television series and the mid-afternoon children's programming block, Bim Bum Bam (offering episodes from numerous cartoon series, predominantly Japanese, like Chobin the Star Child, Sport Billy, Hello Spank, Squirrel Banner, Demetan Croaker, The Boy Frog, Akaki Chi no Eleven). In the late afternoon the channel again broadcasts from local stations and an hour later airs a television series episode (like Paper Moon). Generally, in the early evening two films and one television series is broadcast. The network also offers plenty of air-time to sport programs dedicated to soccer, boxing, basketball and motor racing, including Andrea De Adamich’s Grand Prix. Prime time hours were dedicated to series like Falcon Crest, Kojak, The Big Valley, Project UFO, and Mork & Mindy. On April 23, 1982 an official agreement was made between Gruppo Rusconi and the American network CBS for technical assistance and program sharing. However, only a few months after its appearance on a national scale funds began to dwindle, mostly due to exorbitant costs of managing broadcast transmission systems, something a print editing house like Rusconi probably wasn’t aware of, but also due to the aggressive advertising policy from its main rival network, Canale 5. In fact, Rusconi’s network relied on an external advertising provider, la Publikompass, to sell advertising space while Berlusconi’s channel took advantage of owning its own advertising provider, Publitalia, which could easily personalize ad packages to clients using dumping practices. On September 6, 1982 Rusconi signed a collaboration agreement with Silvio Berlusconi, the owner of Canale 5, mainly focusing on a common policy for the management of advertising limits but also concerning the communal use of high frequency networks and the sharing of some programs. However, on November 30 of that same year, the Rusconi group are forced to sell the network for about 29 billion lire (approximately €520,000) to Berlusconi, who merges it with “Rete 10”, also owned by Berlusconi, to found the new Italia 1, that according to the Fininvest company is oriented for a young audience.