Murdoch launches Berlusconi teaser

By Robert Briel
November 8, 2009 15.01 UK

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp said it will launch Cielo, a new free-to-air digital TV channel, in Italy on the digital terrestrial network. Slated for a December launch, Cielo (which is Italian for Sky) will compete with Berlusconi’s Mediaset.

The new channel will be based in Milan and will not be part of the Sky Italia operation. Instead, News Corporation Stations Europe, the unit in charge of terrestrial TV channels in Europe outside the U.K. and Ireland, will be in control.

“Cielo will enrich Italy’s digital terrestrial offer, bringing more competition in a sector dominated by Mediaset and RAI,” said Gary Davey, CEO News Corporation Stations Europe, in a statement.

Cielo will broadcast both Italian made content as well as imported TV series and movies. The channel will use leased capacity from Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso on one of the country’s digital terrestrial multiplexes with a potential reach of 12 million homes.

The move is just the latest in an ongoing ‘war’ between Italian broadcasters. In July, Mediaset withdrew its channels from the Sky Italia platform to set up its own DTH platform together with public broadcaster RAI.