50. Mediaset SpA
Revenues 2015: € 3.525 billion
The Mediaset stock company is the largest provider of commercial television in Italy and the company's core business is constituted by the three advertising-financed channels Italia 1, Canale 5 and Rete 4 as well as the 100 percent advertising subsidiary Publitalia 80. 30 years after the local private station TeleMilano took its first steps, MediaSet now operates as a fully integrated company and controls each and every aspect of the television business: From program creation and production, trading licensing rights for films and sports evens, the broadcast of the programs to the marketing of advertising time slots. Mediaset withdrew from the telecommunication business in 2005, when it sold its share-hold of the landline provider Albacom (19.5 percent). Mediaset is controlled by the Berlusconi family via the umbrella holding Fininvest. A strongly diversified Fininvest has slimmed down in the 90s and became a multimedia company. The company founder Silvio Berlusconi has been elected the Italian prime minister for the third time in May 2008, after ruling the country in 1994 already as well as from 2001 to 2006.
Via Paleocapa 3
20121 Milan, Italy
Legal Form: Public Company
Business Year: 01/01 – 12/31
Founded: In 1978 , TeleMilano – the nucleus of today's TV company – went on air. In 1995, MediaSet was founded, under the roof of which the television and advertising activities of Silvio Berlusconi's (Fininvest) company empires are subsumed. In 1996, Media set became a public company at the Milan stock exchange.
- Fedele Confalonieri, President
- Pier Silvio Berlusconi, Executive Vice President
- Giuliano Adreani, CEO
Board of Directors:
- Fedele Confalonieri
- Pier Silvio Berlusconi
- Giuliano Adreani
- Marina Berlusconi
- Franco Bruni
- Pasquale Cannatelli
- Mauro Crippa
- Bruno Ermolli
- Marco Giordani
- Fernando Napolitano
- Gina Nieri
- Michele Perini
- Alessandra Piccinino
- Niccolò Querci
- Stefano Sala
- Carlo Secchi
- Wanda Ternau
The unmatched crusade of the Milanese building speculator Silvio Berlusconi in the world of Italian media business begins more or less in passing on the 24th September 1974 in a small shop in the modern overspill town of Milan 2 in front of the Lombard finance metropolis. The TV services that had been developed here were used by the real estate entrepreneurs distribution division as an additional sales argument. The origin of the immense financial means of the self-made entrepreneur are partially unknown and clouded. Berlusconi's intention to extend his radius of action beyond the real estate business manifested itself for the first time in 1977. He gets involved in the Milan newspaper 'Il Giornale' by the famous journalist Indro Montanelli, which was suffering from financial difficulties.
The crucial turn of events happens in 1978: Berlusconi decides to broadcast the TeleMilano cable program on a terrestrial basis. Two years before, the Roman constitutional court had annulled the monopoly of the national television station RAI and paved the way for the emergence of commercial television. The liberalisation of media happened within the constraints of two limitations: The private channels would neither be allowed to broadcast nationwide nor live. Berlusconi handed down the leadership of the Edilnord construction company to his younger brother and dedicates his and the time of his closest co-workers, including the present Mediaset boss Fedele Confalonieri, to the development of an integrated television empire. All activities of the company are subsumed under the umbrella holding Fininvest. By now, the three channels by the RAI television network are facing the challenge of the Fininvest-founder's own three channels. Within six years, the company focus has shifted from construction to the television business. The wild growth on the electronic media landscape created a duopoly of the national RAI network and the commercial monopolist Finivest, ruling over 90 percent of the TV market. One is hard pressed to find room for any other competitors.
The media tycoon enjoyed support from the political ranks during his unmatched expansion. It is not before 1990, 14 years after private television kicked off that a media law puts an end to the era of total anarchy in Italian television. The cartel laws however turn out to be rather tailored towards Berlusconi's needs and result in the consolidation of the thus created concentration. Following a fierce bidding war, Fininvest gains control over Italy's largest book and magazine publisher Mondadori in 1991 too. Two years later, the highly indebted company stands with one foot in the grave. The creditor banks enforce the appointment of the top manager and seasoned renovator Franco Tatò as Fininvest's leading man in Autumn 1993. At the same time, Berlusconi prepares to launch his political career. Taking every possible advantage of his company structures, he founds the 'Forza Italia' party. In spring 1994, Berlusconi is elected the prime minister but he and his heterogeneous right-wing coalition cannot hold on to the position in Rome for longer than seven month. Furthermore, he and the leading employees of the company had to face court cases due to suspicion of corruption, falsifying of business accounts and tax evasion.
Finally in 1995, all television activities are bundled in the newly founded subsidiary Mediaset, making it a public stock company in 1996. Thanks to its monopoly position within the realm of Italian private television, Mediaset is one of the world's most profitable TV companies. On the other hand, the Italian 'King of Television' attempts to internationalise the company turn out to be less successful, apart from a majority share-hold in the profitable Spanish Telecinco station. Even the cross-ownership with the Munich-based Kirch media group, agreed upon in 1999, turned out to be nothing but a burial ground for 400 million Euros. In 2001, Berlusconi is voted the Italian prime minister for the second time. He already forfeited the official leadership of the Mediaset company, yet the apparent conflict of interest remains subject to severe criticism.
As the head of government, Berlusconi can decide over personnel matters at the national RAI stations and at the same time controls the information content of his 'own' channels. For example, the liberal journalist Enzo Biagi had to vacate his position at RAI, after he fell into Berlusconi's disfavour. The author and philosopher Umbert Eco describes the mechanisms behind the 'media regime' as follows: “ Whenever a law that is the subject of discussion is covered, the objections by the opposition are addressed first and in turn immediately rebutted by members of the government. The result is easy to foresee: Whoever speaks last, is right. A media regime does not need to put its opposition into jail. Just make sure they are rendered voiceless by not even letting them have a say.” Still: Even massive spinning could not prevent Berlusconi's voting out as prime minister. However, as early as the 13th of April 2008, the media tycoon returned to power during early elections.
In 2008, Mediaset managed to unhitch itself from the negative trend in the TV business. Even in 2001, the sneaking trade cycle and decrease of revenue in advertising left Mediaset unscathed. While the RAI and Italian's press had to suffer from severe decrease in revenue last year, Mediaset profited from the restacking of advertising budgets by Italian mega companies such as Barilla, Telecom Italia or Fiat, which increased their investments in Mediaset at the cost of RAI. National companies, controlled by the government, such as the postal service or the ENI energy company, tangibly increased their advertising investments in Berlusconi channels. All in all, Mediaset managed to increase its revenue by 4,2 percent to 4,2 billion Euro in 2008 and only had to endure the slightest of dent in the unblemished body of its profits. The gross in 2008 sank by five percent to 23,2% compared to the previous year. It appears that Berlusconi governmental power serves as saving parachute for Mediaset even in the darkest days of the heaviest economic crisis since the 1930s.
Silvio Berlusconi's economic, media and political power is unmatched. Since 1994, the richest man in Italy did not hesitate once to use his superior means on the TV market to further gain power on a political level. As head of the executive force in the nation, Berlusconi resides over the laws and conditions of the television business. By means of a broad majority in parliament, he directly controls the only competitor (as of recently), the public broadcaster RAI.
Furthermore, he remains the majority shareholder of a highly profitable TV empire. The mono culture not only damages and endangers the democracy but also leads to a constant decline of the Italian program quality, which submerges the audience with a mixture of shallow shows, lotteries, violent films, reality shows, repeats, Hollywood productions and animation.
Italy's television landscape constituted an exceptional case. The Italian private TV monopolist holds a rather comfortable position of supremacy. Mediaset reeks in 58 percent of all advertising investments on the Italian TV market and registers average ratings of 38,8 percent in 2009. In fact, Mediaset won't break a sweat in regards to eventual competition by its rivals any time soon, no struggle over the favour of the audience takes place between RAI and Mediaset. Mediaset holds on to its traditional strategy: Consolidate the market share in Italy and generate high return of investments – such goes the credo in Berlusconi's TV HQ in Cologne Monzese at Milan. Most recently, Mediaset pit itself against the strong expansion of Murdoch's Italian spin-off Sky Italia on the Pay TV front with its own Pay TV services called Premium.
Ever since Berlusconi's emergence on the political sphere in 1994, the patient and diplomatic Fedele Confalonieri held on to the reins of the multi-billionaire's company empire. The hitherto autocratic company, which has been perfectly suited for its founder, is now being more and more influenced by its individual managers, such as the Mediaset CEO Giuliano Adreani. However, Confalonieri remains Berlusconi's true vicegerent, who is called 'lo Zio' by company insiders (The Uncle). The fact that Berlusconi did not sell Mediaset to Rupert Murdoch in 1999, even after a prolonged state of negotiation is credited to the veto of his adult children and the fierce resistance of Confalonieri. The Berlusconi family exercises a strong influence on the company: Son Pier Silvio is the vice president and member of Mediaset's executive committee. Daughter Marina is president of the umbrella holding Fininvest and the Mondadori publishing house and is considered the most influential woman in the Italian economy. Step by step, the children from the second marriage - Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi Berlusconi - found their way into the company halls. Berlusconi's second wife Veronica Lario is the publisher of the 'Il Foglio' newspaper. Berlusconi's younger brother Paolo was made the publisher of the 'Il Giornale' daily newspaper in 1990.
The core business of media billionaire Berlusconi is the advertising-finance television with its three, nationwide, freely receivable TV stations Canale 5, Italia 1 and Retequattro. In Spain, Mediaset controls 50,5 % of shares of the market leader Telecinco. Since 2004, the station has been listed on the Madrid stock market. In 2008, Mediaset and Berlusconi's friends Tarak Ben Ammar took over 50% of the young Tunisian television station Nessma TV, the sphere of influence of which is subject to extension to North African neighbour countries. RTI Interactive Media (100%) is dedicated to new media and produces content for Internet, video text and mobile services.
The Sky Italia satellite channel launched in 2003, a Milanese spin-off of the US-media company News Corp. by Rupert Murdoch and has grown to be a veritable competitor for Berlusconi's TV company since. Sporting 190 channels and 4,9 million subscribers (as of March 2011), Sky continued to improve its market position in Italy within only a few years. The revenue on the Italian market tripled over six years and rose to 2,7 billion Euro, leaving Mediaset behind in the race for profit on the Italian market. By means of football, Hollywood blockbuster and niche channels, the subscription-based station won over the young & affluent consumers in the rich Northern part of the country. Sky intentionally head-hunted the rating guarantors of the competitor Media set for this very purpose.
The 100% company subsidiary Publitalia 80 is Mediaset's exclusive marketer of advertising slots. Publitalia controls 58% of the Italian TV advertising market. As far as the total advertising market in Italy is concerned, Publitalia holds a share of 35, 7%, according to Nielsen Media Research (As of 2007).
R.T.I. operates the three TV stations Canale 5, Italia 1 and Retequattro. It also controls the program producer Videotime, sporting three production offices in Milan and Rome as well as several regional studios (98,39%), the licensing rights trader Mediatrade (100%) and the broadcasting network operator Elettronica Industriale (100%). In May 2007, Mediaset completely took over Europe's largest independent TV-production company Endemol. The company is based in the Netherlands and sports branches in 25 countries. It produces an annual total of more than 15 000 hours of screentime, including Big Brother. The library of Endemol holds 1400 TV formats, ranging from series to soap operas, reality shows, game shows and talk shows.
The new media division is covered by the subsidiary R.T.I. Interactive Media. It is responsible for the www.mediaset.it online presence, the video text of the television channels, e-commerce, the WAP services as well as TGcom. TGcom is an online gateway featuring journalistic content, which is still being neglected when compared to other company segments. All in all, Mediaset's activities in the field of new media are not distinguished by its abundance.
» Paul Ginsborg, Berlusconi, 2005
the Open Society Foundations' Media Program,
Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education,
the Rudolf Augstein Foundation,
the city of Cologne, Germany,
and the State of Thuringia, Department of Commerce.