Television in Italy

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.

According to BBC, 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 parliament. 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]

Digital terrestrial television

Digital terrestrial television technology is expanding rapidly and now every major network in Italy,including RAI, Mediaset and Cairo Communicationtransmits 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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Satellite television

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.[7]

Cable television

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

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:[8] 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

Current providers

Defunct providers

List of nationwide television stations

Most important all national free-to-view channels

All channels broadcast 24 hours, are in 16:9 SDTV format and also FTA on digital satellite. The channels from 10 to 19 are made available for Italian regional television.


RAI is Italy's national public broadcasting company, owned by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. RAI's broadcasts are also received in neighboring countries, including Albania, Croatia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Slovenia, Vatican City, and southern Switzerland. It's one of the 23 founding broadcasting organizations of the European Broadcasting Union.

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Rai 1 001 1954 generalist
Rai 2 002 1961 generalist
Rai 3 003 1979 generalist
Rai 4 021 2008 TV series, movies and entertainment for young audience
Rai 5 023 2010 cultured-oriented entertainment, documentaries
Rai Movie 024 1999 movies
Rai Premium 025 2010 best RAI's past programs
Rai Gulp 042 2007 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for teens
Rai Yoyo 043 2006 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for kids
Rai News 24 048 1999 all news
Rai Storia 054 2009 documentaries focused on history
Rai Sport 1 057 1999 live sports and news
Rai Sport 2 058 2010 live sports and news
Rai Scuola 146 2009 educational


Mediaset is the largest commercial broadcaster in the country. The group competes primarily against the public broadcaster and market leader RAI. Due to their proximity to (or encirclement by) Italy, Albania, Croatia, Switzerland, Malta, San Marino, the Vatican City and Slovenia also receive Mediaset broadcasts. In addition to its domestic television interests, Mediaset also operates a series of news, entertainment and sport websites; holds 50.1% of the Spanish broadcasting firm Mediaset España Comunicación; owns the film production company Medusa Film; and heads a consortium which owns the television production house Endemol.

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Rete 4 004 1982 generalist (HD on channel 504)
Canale 5 005 1980 generalist (HD on channel 505)
Italia 1 006 1982 generalist (HD on channel 506)
Iris 022 2007 TV series, movies and cultured-oriented programs
La 5 030 2010 TV series, movies, entertainment, reality shows, female-oriented channel
Mediaset Extra 034 2010 past and current cult shows from Mediaset channels
Italia 2 035 2011 TV series, movies, entertainment, reality shows, male-oriented channel
Top Crime 039 2013 TV series and movies on the world of crime
TgCom24 051 2011 all news

Cairo Communication

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
La7 007 2001 generalist
La7d 029 2010 women infotainment, TV series, movies, light entertainment, La7 reruns

Sky Italia

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
TV8 008 2016 generalist
Cielo 026 2009 generalist
Sky TG24 050 2015 24h all news

Discovery Italia

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
NOVE 009 2016 generalist
Real Time 031 2005 lifestyle (HD on Sky Italia, +1 on FTA satellite)
Giallo 038 2012 TV series and crime movies
K2 041 2009 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for teens
Frisbee 044 2010 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for kids
DMAX 052 2011 factual-entertainment for the male audience (HD on Sky Italia, +1 on FTA satellite)
Focus 056 2012 documentaries

Viacom Italia

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Paramount Channel 027 2016 movies
VH1 067 2016 24-hour music

Turner Broadcasting System

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Boing 040 2004 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for teens
Cartoonito 046 2011 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for kids

De Agostini

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Super! 047 2010 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for teens

LT Multimedia

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Alice 221 2000 entertainment focused on food and cooking
Marcopolo 062-223 1997 entertainment focused on travel
Nuvolari 060-224 2000 entertainment focused on motors

Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Onda Italiana 069 2015 Italian music
m2o TV 158 2011 music
Radio Capital TV 162 2011 music vintage

Scripps Networks Interactive

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
33 033 2016 factual entertainment
Fine Living 049 2014 factual entertainment

RTL 102.5

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
RTL 102.5 TV 036 2000 radio broadcast and news

Liberty Interactive

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
QVC 032 2010 home shopping

Home Shopping Europe

Logo Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
HSE24 037 2011 home shopping

Other national channels


  • TV2000 (028)
  • Vero Capri (055-137-144)


  • Radio Italia TV (070)
  • R101 TV (167)


  • SuperTennis (064)
  • Sportitalia (153)


  • Padre Pio TV (145), religious channel

Network of local televisions

Foreign Channels

Lower channels, teleshopping channel, lower network and local channels

Digital Satellite Only (Free to air)



News and politics

Sports and betting

  • Betting channel
  • Class Horse tv
  • Passione Pesca
  • Subacquea TV

Foreign Channels

Most Viewed Channels

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.

Position Channel Launch date Owner 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
1 Rai 1 1954 RAI 22.86 22.99 22.33 21.80 20.63 19.86 18.1 18.3 17.84 17.43
2 Canale 5 1980 Mediaset 21.82 20.96 20.67 20.33 20.50 18.78 17.0 15.9 14.95 15.37
3 Rai 3 1979 RAI 9.11 9.31 9.06 9.07 8.46 7.75 8.5 7.7 7.38 6.73
4 Rai 2 1961 RAI 11.29 11.27 10.38 10.60 8.90 9.02 8.3 7.6 6.77 6.62
5 Italia 1 1982 Mediaset 11.48 11.09 11.18 10.83 10.68 9.22 8.3 6.18 6.54 5.97
6 Rete 4 1982 Mediaset 8.63 8.22 8.68 8.28 7.47 6.79 6.7 5.42 5.03 4.89
7 La7 2001 Cairo Communication 2.71 3.02 2.97 3.08 3.18 3.06 3.82 3.68 3.76 3.26
8 Real Time 2005 Discovery Networks <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.09 1.4 1.53 1.52
9 DMAX 2011 Discovery Networks N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. <0.90 <0.90 1.32 1.40
10 Rai YoYo 2006 RAI N.E. <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.34 1.38
11 Iris 2007 Mediaset N.E. N.E. <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.26 1.31 1.31
12 Cielo 2009 News Corporation N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.30
13 TOP Crime 2013 Mediaset N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. N.E. 1.05 1.06
14 Rai Premium 2003 RAI <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.25 1.14 1.06
15 Rai Movie 1999 RAI <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 0.92 0.95 1.03
16 Boing 2004 Mediaset
Turner Broadcasting System
<0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.05 0.99 <0.90 0.99
17 Rai 4 2008 RAI N.E. N.E. N.E. <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 0.98 1.1 0.96 0.92

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Sintesi Mensile 1A" (PDF). Auditel. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  2. "Country profile: Italy". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  3. "Our new digital friend? We now trust online news as we trust TV and newspapers". TNS US. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  4. "SWITCH OFF FOR 2012". 2006-09-01. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  5. "EU wants Italy to clarify frequency distribution rules". Broadband TV News. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  6. "Digitale Terrestre Parte in Sardegna lo switch-off" (in Italian). NonSoloCinema. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  7. "RAI and Mediaset plan Italian freesat Broadband TV News". Broadband TV News. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  8. "Legge 103/75 Nuove norme in materia di diffusione radiofonica e televisiva" (in Italian). Agcom. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
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