Having finally fallen into the clutches of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation after approval last week by the European Commission [WAMN: 03-Apr-03], Italy’s largest satellite broadcaster Telepiù (formerly owned by Vivendi Universal) now faces deconstruction.

On the block are jobs in sales, marketing, distribution and back-office management – both at Telepiù and at NewsCorp-owned rival Stream with which it is to be merged – assuming always that Italian competition regulators give the union their blessing. Few believe it likely to be withheld as both companies are deeply in the red.

Overseeing the duo’s transformation into Sky Italia is a new seven-strong board of directors, one of which will represent Telecom Italia, which holds a 20% stake in the new entity. The melded unit is likely to be based in Milan.

Sky Italia is forecast to post an operating loss this year of €342 million ($364.58m; £235.07m) on sales of €1.17 billion. As part of its way through the wood, it will focus both on cost-cutting and subscriber acquisition. The latter is projected to grow to 2.3m this year, to 2.77m in 2004, and 3.23m in 2005. Over the same period, the churn rate is forecast to fall from 20.5% to 14%.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff