By Julian Clover
March 2, 2010

The Italian government has approved legislation that will reduce the amount of advertising that can be carried by pay-TV channels including those operated by Sky Italia.

Under the new rules the maximum amount of advertising per hour will be progressively reduced to 12% in 2012 from the present 18%. At the same time channels that are broadcast free-to-air will be able to increase their advertising time to a maximum of 20% per hour from the current 18%. The new regulations technically effect some of the international broadcasters on the Sky platform; though many such as CNN and Bloomberg are transmitted out of countries where the local regulations already restrict advertising at or below the 12% level.

The rules clearly benefit the free-to-air channel business of Mediaset, the commercial broadcaster controlled by the family of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, against that of News Corpís Sky Italia. Whether the Italian viewer will wear some of the highest advertising time in Europe is another matter.

Berlusconi himself absented himself from the cabinet meeting during which the new regulations were discussed. The decision will also permit the inclusion of product placement.
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