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Murdoch struggles to replicate U.K. success in Italy, Germany

Rupert Murdoch is the undisputed king of pay TV in Blighty, thanks to his controlling 39.1% stake in money-spinning satcaster BSkyB, which he is bidding to buy outright.

But Murdoch's Midas touch has yet to work on his struggling Sky Deutschland, while Sky Italia is faced with falling subscriber numbers and a price war with rival Mediaset.

[...] Sky Italia, which bowed in 2003, is the only one of the three payboxes owned outright by News Corp.

It competes against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset empire and saw its first drop in subs in the first quarter, down 39,000 to 4.7 million compared with 5 million last fall.

In July, in an effort to reverse the decline, Sky Italia cut the cost of its basic movie and soccer packages by 25% to a monthly $36. News Corp. said the initial response was "quite encouraging" and it would "stimulate subscriber growth."

Mockridge hopes that by successfully lobbying the European Commission to allow Sky to enter Italy's burgeoning digital terrestrial TV market two years ahead of schedule, News Corp.'s position will be strengthened.

Augusto Preta, director of Rome-based IT-Media Consulting, said the DTT advertising market is expected to be highly lucrative. "I believe this is the main reason why Sky Italia is keen to bid for a DTT frequency," he said.

Preta added that Sky could use up to five free channels on a new digital frequency to cross-promote the pay service.[...]

Variety, 12 August 2010
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