Mediaset Italia S.p.A.
IndustryMass media
Founded10 February 1980; 42 years ago (1980-02-10)
FounderSilvio Berlusconi
HeadquartersCologno Monzese, Milan, Italy
Key people
Pier Silvio Berlusconi CEO
ProductsFree-to-air and
television broadcasting
Television Production
RevenueIncrease €3.401 billion (2018)
Increase €0.471 billion (2018)
Number of employees
Increase 9,312 (2017)
ParentMFE - MediaForEurope

Mediaset Italia S.p.A., also known as Mediaset, is an Italian-based mass media company which is the largest commercial broadcaster in the country. The company is controlled by the holding company MFE - MediaForEurope. Founded in 1987 by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the group competes primarily against the public broadcaster RAI, the privately owned La7 and (through Sky Group Limited) Comcast's Sky Italia.

Mediaset's headquarters are in Milan, Lombardy. Many of its studios are located in the Milano 2 area of Segrate, a municipality bordering Milan, where broadcasts of local station TeleMilano (now airing nationally as Mediaset's Canale 5) began in 1978. After merging with various local broadcaster to form the Canale 5 syndication, much production was moved to Cologno Monzese, where the infrastructure of the former Telealtomilanese was present. The company currently has three main television production centres, in Milan (Segrate, Cologno Monzese) and Rome.[1]

Due to their proximity to Italy, other countries including France, Croatia, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro and Slovenia also receive Mediaset broadcasts. In addition to its domestic television interests, Mediaset also operates a series of news, entertainment and sport websites; owns the film production company Medusa Film.


Beginnings in late 70s

Mediaset's story began in 1978, with Telemilano, a local Milan-based broadcaster that became Canale 5 two years later and began broadcasting nationally. Canale 5 was subsequently joined by Italia 1 (bought from the publishing group Rusconi in 1982) and Rete 4 (acquired from Arnoldo Mondadori Editore in 1984). Television area was called RTI and became established with three national analogue networks, supported by an advertising sales company, Publitalia '80, that exclusively collects advertising for all three channels, and two other companies, Videotime, that manages TV technology and production activities, and Elettronica Industriale that guarantees signal distribution through the management of the broadcasting infrastructure. In 1987, it bought out Italian's leading home video distributor Domovideo, in a seesaw contest with Vincenzo Romangoli.[2] In 1990, Silvio Berlusconi Communications entered into a partnership with DIC Enterprises and having SBC subsidiaries Reteitalia, S.p.A. and Telecinco to co-produce shows, a relationship that lasted until 1994.[3]

From late 90s to early 2000: the evolution

Branding the company under his own image and having prior experience with the cable broadcasting industry during his time in Milan, Berlusconi expanded into many media ventures such as television, film and radio industries; and in 1996, RTI, Videotime, Publitalia and Elettronica Industriale were brought together in a single group, Mediaset, which was then listed on the Milan stock exchange, opening up the company to both important institutional investors and private investors (around 300,000). In 1997, Mediaset expands outside Italy with the acquisition of a 25% stake in the Spanish broadcaster, Telecinco. In 1999, Mediaset Group expands its web-based activities with a television portal dedicated to Canale 5, Italia 1 and Retequattro and a daily online news service, is accessible from a range of media (internet, TV, radio, Mediavideo teletext and mobile phones).

In 2003, Mediaset increases its stake in Telecinco and becomes the major shareholder with 50.1% of the shares. The following year the Spanish TV company was listed on the Madrid stock exchange. In 2004, with the debut in Italy of digital terrestrial television, an innovative signal broadcasting system that uses standard aerials and a small set-top box. Mediaset launches Mediashopping, a shopping channel.

2005-2007: Pay-TV and Acquisitions

In 2005, the group launched Mediaset Premium, a pay digital terrestrial television service which offered live Serie A football, with a pre-paid card and without a subscription. Mediaset Premium also had a pay-per-view offer including films (including first TV-screenings), theatre and live events. In 2006, Mediaset launched Europe's first digital terrestrial Mobile TV network using DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcast Handheld) technology.

In 2007, Mediaset became a major network due to its international expansion and new acquisitions. In a consortium with Cyrte Fund and Goldman Sachs, they acquired from Telefonica a controlling interest in Endemol. The Dutch production company buys Medusa, Italy's leading film production and distribution company. In 2008, they reached an agreement regarding the acquisition of Taodue.[citation needed]

Mediaset decides to enter the Chinese market by obtaining the licence to sell advertisements for China Global Media which in October launched the sports channel China Sport Network, a consortium of seven regional broadcasters with an audience reach of 400 million viewers. Publieurope which sells international advertising for the channel; launching a new free Italian digital terrestrial channel, Iris, featuring auteur cinema, music, literature and theatre.

2008-2009: Expansion

In 2008, the creation of Premium Gallery, a new digital terrestrial premium content offer available with a pre-paid card. Three new channels, Joi, Mya, Steel, where viewers can see exclusive previews of the best TV series and films from Time Warner and NBC-Universal. In July, the Gallery family was joined by the Disney Channel and Premium Calcio 24 kicks off. At 2008 end, the Premium Gallery offering further improved with the launch of Premium Fantasy, including four proposals dedicated to children and teenagers. In addition to Disney Channel and Disney Channel +1, the expanded offering includes: Playhouse Disney, Cartoon Network, Hiro.

In the same year, Telecinco entered the North American market with the acquisition of a 29.2% stake in Caribevision - a US broadcaster for the country's Spanish-speaking population - while a joint venture was established between Medusa Film and Taodue, leader in the production of quality TV dramas. The union of these two companies will lead to the creation of an Italian production unit which will compete with the main international majors.

In 2009, Mediaset launched a new website.

Mediaset Premium doubled its offer of cinema with the launch of Premium Cinema and the much anticipated re-launch of Studio Universal. On 20 November Mediaset Premium launched a new feature: Premium-On-Demand, a digital library with 50 films, updated daily, and American TV series. Also 20 November Premium also launched two features dedicated to the cinema: Premium Cinema Emotion and Premium Cinema Energy.

Publitalia'80 and Mondadori Pubblicità, stipulated an agreement for the realisation of a joint initiative aiming at gathering advertising on line. On the basis of this agreement, a new company was founded on 30 July owned jointly by Mediamond.

On 31 July Mediaset sees the launch of Tivù Sat, Italy's first free digital satellite platform, built by a company jointly owned by RAI (48.25%), Mediaset (48.25%) and Telecom Italia Media (3.5%). TivùSat is a complementary platform to the existing digital terrestrial platform, and is able to reach areas of the country not covered by the terrestrial networks.

On 18 December 2009 Mediaset S.p.A., the subsidiary Telecinco and Gruppo Prisa approved and signed an agreement that foresees, conditional upon determined conditions being met, the acquisition by Telecinco of a newly founded company which will include the company part of Cuatro and its shareholding of 22% in Digital Plus.


In 2010, the title News Mediaset is operational: an internal press agency that will provide images, news and services for all of Mediaset's news structures. Two free-to-air channels were launched: La5, dedicated to a mainly female audience; Mediaset Extra, dedicated to Mediaset channels' entertainment programmes from yesterday and today.

Mediaset Premium see the launch of Premium Cinema HD: previews of films in HD. From October, Premium will broadcast, using the on demand system films in 3D. To watch the films, viewers will need a 3D TV and a normal Premium On Demand HD decoder which, as well as providing a high definition signal, is also equipped to carry 3D.

The Comisión Nacional de la Competencia (the Spanish antitrust commission), with a resolution dated 28 October 2010, authorised the acquisition by Gestevision Telecinco S.A. of exclusive control of Sociedad General De Television Cuatro S.A.U. through the purchase of 100% of its share capital, subordinate to certain conditions. Telecinco, having met the suspension conditions to which it was subjected, today acquired a 22% stake in "DTS Distribuidora de Televisión Digital SA" ("Digital+") and 100% of the share capital of "Four Television SAU" ("Sogecuatro"), holder, among other things, of the free-to-air channel "Cuatro". This operation resulted in the Mediaset Group becoming Spain?s biggest television operator.


Mediaset launched a new service called Premium Net TV, a new non-linear "over-the-top" TV system that offers films, TV series, cartoons, documentaries, football; in addition to all of the Mediaset channels' programmes of the last seven days and the entire offer can be seen also on a PC with the same quality as on TV. Premium Net TV is a completely open, independent network system, viewable with any Gold Stamp digital decoder and a broadband connection from any telephone carrier and it is included in the standard Mediaset Premium subscription, without any additional cost.

Mediaset launched four new channels on its digital terrestrial platform: BBC Knowledge and Discovery World that broadcast documentaries; while Premium Crime dedicated to enthusiasts of thrillers and detective stories and Premium Cinema Comedy to those who love both Italian and American light comedy.

Mediaset launched new three free-to-air channels: Me, in which Mediaset will reinforce its presence in the mail order sales sector with a new brand and a new approach; TgCom24, a new, live, free-to-air, all news channel, also available online in live streaming on the TgCom24 website, and on smartphones and tablets.

In November, Italian viewers can access Premium Play, a new TV service.


Mediaset launched a new service called Infinity, a new non-linear "over-the-top" TV system that offers films, TV series, cartoons, anime; in addition to all of the Mediaset channels' programmes.

Mediaset launched a new free-to-air channel: Top Crime.


Mediaset launched a two new free-to-air channel: 20 and Focus. Mediaset removed Mediaset HD Premium channels on 1 June 2018.


Mediaset bought Sony Pictures Television Italia's terrestrial frequences and replaced Pop and Cine Sony by Boing Plus (owned by Boing S.p.A.) and Mediaset Extra 2, later replaced with Cine 34.


In January 2021 Mediaset signs a collaborative contract with the Romanian IT and telecommunications company DeltaLab S.A. for the construction of fiber optic network infrastructures around the world €196,000,000,000 (euro) project that will bring the high-speed line even in areas where there is no connection. the construction will take about 3 years with the help of construction companies in the various territories. When the works are finished it will be the largest infrastructure in the world, the infrastructures will be owned 30% by Mediaset and 70% by DeltaLab which will provide the connection as a direct supplier.[citation needed]

In November 2021, Mediaset announced a major restructuring, under which it would form a new parent company, MFE–MediaForEurope N.V., which would be domiciled in the Netherlands.[4]


In January 2022, Mediaset closed Premium Action, Premium Crime, Premium Stories and Premium Cinema. Mediaset later bought ViacomCBS' terrestrial frequencies and launched Twentyseven 27.


Free-to-air channels

Channel LCN on DVB-T LCN on Tivùsat Launched Description
Rete 4 4 (HD) 4 (HD) 4 January 1982 Generalist
Canale 5 5 (HD) 5 (HD) 11 November 1980 Generalist
Italia 1 6 (HD) 6 (HD) 3 January 1982 Generalist
20 20 (HD) 20 (HD) 3 April 2018 TV series, movies, and sports
Iris 22 (SD) 11 (HD) 30 November 2007 TV series and movies
Twentyseven 27 (SD) 27 (HD) 17 January 2022 TV series and movies
La5 30 (SD) 12 (HD) 12 May 2010 Female-oriented
Cine34 34 (SD) 34 (HD) 20 January 2020 Italian movies of all times
Focus 35 (SD) 60 (HD) 17 May 2018 Documentaries
Top Crime 39 (SD) 39 (HD) 1 June 2013 Crime TV series and crime movies
Boing 40 (SD) 40 (SD) 20 November 2004 Child-oriented
Boing Plus 45 (SD) - 11 July 2019 Child-oriented
Cartoonito 46 (SD) 41 (SD) 22 August 2011 Toddler-oriented
Italia 2 49 (SD) 16 (HD) 4 July 2011 Young male-oriented
TgCom24 51 (SD) 25 (HD) 11 November 2011 All news
Mediaset Extra 55 (SD) 17 (HD) 26 November 2010 Best Mediaset's series TV and shows
Radio 105 TV 66 (SD) - 23 December 2019 Radio broadcast and news
R101 TV 67 (SD) - 4 June 2014
Virgin Radio TV - 68 (SD) 6 November 2018
Radio Monte Carlo TV - 67 (SD) 10 April 2020

Pay television channels

Channel LCN on DVB-T LCN on Sky Launched Closed Description
Premium Action 459 - 1 April 2013 10 January 2022 Series TV
Premium Action HD - 125 23 June 2015
Premium Crime 503 - 1 July 2011
Premium Crime HD - 10 23 June 2015
Premium Stories 462 -
Premium Stories HD - 14 4 June 2018
Premium Cinema 1 463 - 1 July 2020 Movies
Premium Cinema 1 HD - 313
Premium Cinema 1 +24 HD - 314
Premium Cinema 2 464 -
Premium Cinema 2 HD - 315
Premium Cinema 3 465 -
Premium Cinema 3 HD - 316

Radio channels

Channel Format Launch
Radio 105 CHR/Urban music 16 February 1976
R101 Hot AC 10 March 1976 (as Radio Milano International)
Virgin Radio Rock 12 July 2007
Radio Monte Carlo Adult contemporary/World music 6 March 1966
Radio Subasio Easy listening/Italian music 7 February 1976

Pay TV OTT (Italy)

Other foreign channels

Film Studio

External broadcasting services (outside Italy)

Production centres

Mediaset Tower in Cologno Monzese (Milan)
Mediaset Tower in Cologno Monzese (Milan)




A 2019 study in The American Economic Review examined the impact of Mediaset on Italy during its rollout in the 1980s. The study compared voting habits of people who grew up in towns and regions that got early access to Mediaset against ones that only got late access to Mediaset. The study noted that Mediaset's programming, especially during the 80s & 90s, was far more slanted toward entertainment and contained far less news and educational content than its competitor, the RAI. It also concluded that "individuals with early access to Mediaset all-entertainment content were more likely to vote for Berlusconi's party in 1994, when he first ran for office... we find that individuals exposed to entertainment TV as children were less cognitively sophisticated and civic-minded as adults, and ultimately more vulnerable to Berlusconi's populist rhetoric."[5] The study said the effect included populist parties in general that offered simple slogans and easy cure-alls, including non-Berlusconi populist parties such as the Five Star Movement.[6]


Europa 7

In January 2008, the European Court of Justice ruled that the TV frequencies used by Mediaset to broadcast Rete 4 were shared out unfairly. They should have been given to Europa 7, a competitor channel, the judges maintain, and Rete 4 should be broadcast via satellite instead. Although the Italian Council of State, the highest court on administrative matters, has confirmed that the Italian government should abide by this European ruling, Rete 4 continues its operation on analog frequencies and on DVB-T.[7]


On 30 July 2008, Mediaset filed a lawsuit against Google for €500 million (US$779 million) charging copyright infringement. The company stated that 325 hours worth of material was uploaded to YouTube and the result was the loss of 315,672 viewing days and ad revenue.[8][9]

Sky Italia

On 16 September 2009, SKY Italia (fully owned by News Corporation) filed a lawsuit to the Court of Milan, Italy, against Reti Televisive Italiane and Publitalia '80 for a violation of Article 82 of European Treaty that regulates free economic competition between companies, in particular for refusing to allow SKY Italia to purchase advertising on the three main Mediaset television channels (Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4),[10] exercising Article 700 of the Italian Civil Procedural Code who permit to require an urgent action.[11] Mediaset has rejected the charge of antitrust violations, stating that in 2009 it had broadcast SKY Italia commercials 3107 times on its channels, whereas SKY Italia has always refused to broadcast Mediaset commercials.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "Offices". Mediaset. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  2. ^ "Berlusconi Buys Italian Distributor". Variety. 29 April 1987. pp. 39–40.
  3. ^ "DiC Enterprises gets animated with new tour" (PDF). Broadcasting. 14 May 1990. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Mediaset becomes MFE-MediaForEurope". Digital TV Europe. 26 November 2021. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  5. ^ Tesei, Andrea; Pinotti, Paolo; Durante, Ruben (2019). "The Political Legacy of Entertainment TV". American Economic Review. 109 (7): 2497–2530. doi:10.1257/aer.20150958. ISSN 0002-8282.
  6. ^ How trashy TV made children dumber and enabled a wave of populist leaders
  7. ^ Fonte, Giuseppe (31 May 2008). "Italy court rejects Mediaset appeal to EU ruling". Reuters.
  8. ^ Lawson, Stephen (30 July 2008). "Mediaset Files EUR500 Million Suit Vs Google's YouTube". IDG. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  9. ^ "Italian Media Company Sues YouTube". Dow Jones Newswires. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2008.
  10. ^ "News Corporation's Sky Italia Files Lawsuit Against Mediaset Companies For Antitrust Violations" (Press release). News Corporation. 16 September 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2009.
  11. ^ "Sky porta Mediaset in tribunale". Il Sole 24 Ore (in Italian). 17 September 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  12. ^ "Mediaset respinge accuse infondate del concorrente SKY". Mediaset Group press release. 16 September 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2009.