The ad-induced woes affecting media companies worldwide do not seem to be troubling Italy’s leading two TV groups, state broadcaster RAI and commercial rival Mediaset, which between them own the six largest of the country’s seven networks and command 90% of the viewing audience.

RAI – which receives nearly $1 billion of public cash a year – has been warned by communications minister Maurizio Gasparri not to charge more than the legal rate card ceiling imposed upon it by the government.

A spokesman for Gasparri revealed that RAI may have increased its rates in some cases due to strong demand for ad time. “Right now, the evidence is insufficient [to know if RAI has overcharged clients], but the minister warned them so that in the event it is true, they will stop before the problem becomes more serious.”

Mediaset, controlled by media mogul and prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, is also enjoying higher demand for air-time.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera, ceo Giuliano Adreani revealed that the group had attracted hundreds of new advertisers this year following a vigorous sales push. “We may be the only European television broadcaster to close the year with a rise in advertising sales,” he bragged.

The news counters claims by Italy’s ad and media shops that spend has tumbled during this year’s economic slowdown, and in particular since September 11. Official figures for adspend over the first nine months of 2001 are due for release in November.

News source: AdAge Global