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 Warner Bros. Discovery, had a viewing share of 5.8%.[1] Apart from these three free to air companies, Comcast's satellite pay TV platform Sky Italia is increasing in viewing and shares.[citation needed]

According to the 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]

Terrestrial television has historically been the dominant form of transmission in the country.[4]

Television providers

Digital terrestrial television

Digital terrestrial television technology has expanded rapidly and now every major network in Italy (including RAI and Mediaset) transmits in DVB-T format, while analog broadcasts were continued until the end of the transition, originally set by law to December 31, 2006, but later pushed back to the end of 2012.[5]

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. In 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.[6] 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.[7]

Satellite television

Italy has had digital satellite broadcasts since the 1990s, with the launch of Stream TV and TELE+. In 2003 these merged into Sky Italia, today this pay TV platform is broadcasting from Hot Bird 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. As of today, almost all channels on the platform broadcasts in HD. 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.[8]

Pay television

Current providers

Defunct providers

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.[citation needed]

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:[9] 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.

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 – Radiotelevisione italiana S.p.A.

Logo of RAI (2016).svg

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 is one of the 23 founding broadcasting organizations of the European Broadcasting Union.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Rai 1 1 1954 generalist (SD on channel 501, HD on FTA satellite)
Rai 2 2 1961 generalist (SD on channel 502, HD on FTA satellite)
Rai 3 3 1979 generalist (HD on channel 103, HD on FTA satellite)
Rai 4 21 2008 generalist, TV series, movies and entertainment for young audience (HD on channel 521 selected regions only, FTV satellite nationally)
Rai 5 23 2010 cultured-oriented entertainment, documentaries (HD on FTV satellite)
Rai Movie 24 1999 movies (HD on FTV satellite)
Rai Premium 25 2010 best RAI's past programs (HD on channel 525 selected regions only, FTV satellite nationally)
Rai Gulp 42 2007 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for teens (HD on FTA satellite)
Rai Yoyo 43 2006 cartoons and shows for pre-scholar children (HD on FTV satellite)
Rai News 24 48 1999 all news (HD on FTA satellite)
Rai Storia 54 2009 documentaries focused on history (HD on FTA satellite)
Rai Sport + HD 57 1999 live sports and news
Rai Scuola 58 2009 educational (HD on FTA satellite)

Mediaset S.p.A.

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 Banijay.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Rete 4 4 1982 generalist (HD on channel 504)
Canale 5 5 1980 generalist (HD on channel 505)
Italia 1 6 1982 generalist (HD on channel 506)
20 20 2018 generalist, oriented to films, TV series and sport events (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)
Iris 22 2007 TV series, movies and cultured-oriented programs
27 Twentyseven 27 2022 TV series, and movies (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)
La5 30 2010 TV series, movies, entertainment, reality shows, female-oriented channel
Cine34 34 2020 Italian movies of all time
Focus 35 2018 documentaries (It was owned by Discovery Italia)
Top Crime 39 2013 TV series and movies on the world of crime
Italia 2 49 2011 TV series, movies, entertainment, reality shows, male-oriented channel
TgCom24 51 2011 all news
Mediaset Extra 55 2010 past and current cult shows from Mediaset channels
Radio 105 TV 157 2019 radio broadcast and news
R101 TV 167 2014
Virgin Radio TV 257 2018
Radio Monte Carlo TV 67 (TivùSat), 716 (Sky Italia) 2020 only on FTV satellite

Cairo Communication S.p.A.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
La7 7 2001 generalist (HD on channel 507)
La7d 29 2010 women infotainment, TV series, movies, light entertainment, La7 reruns (HD on channel 529)

Discovery Italia S.r.l.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Nove 9 2016 generalist
Real Time 31 2005 lifestyle (HD on Sky Italia and Tivùsat)
Food Network 33 2017 Cuisine (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)
Giallo 38 2012 TV series and crime movies (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)
K2 41 2009 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for pre-teens
Frisbee 44 2010 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for kids
DMAX 52 2011 factual-entertainment for the male audience (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)
HGTV - Home & Garden TV 56 2020 home improvement and real estate (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)
Motor Trend 59 2018 motor (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)

Sky Italia S.r.l.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
TV8 8 2016 generalist (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)
Cielo 26 2009 shows and movies (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)
Sky TG24 50 2003 all-news channel

Paramount Networks Italia S.r.l.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
VH1 67 2016 24-hour music (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)
Super! 47 2010 (by De Agostini) cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for teens

Boing S.p.A. (51% Mediaset, 49% Warner Bros. Discovery)

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Boing 40 2004 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for pre-teens and teens
Boing Plus 45 2019 timeshift version of Boing and Cartoonito
Cartoonito 46 2011 cartoons, TV series and entertainment programs for kids aged 3–7.

Television Broadcasting System S.r.l.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Retecapri 122 1982 generalist (HD on channel 566)

Alma Media S.p.A.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Alma TV 65 2020 entertainment focused on food, cooking, house living and travel and

GEDI Gruppo Editoriale S.p.A.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
Deejay TV 69 2018 radio broadcast and news

RTL 102.5 HIT RADIO S.r.l

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
RTL 102.5 TV 36 2000 radio broadcast and news
Radiofreccia 258 2016 rock music
Radio Zeta 266 2016 Italian pop and indie music

Liberty Interactive

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
QVC 32 2010 shopping and entertainment channel (HD on Sky Italia and TivùSat)

GM Comunicazione S.r.l.

Channel LCN on DVB-T Launched Description
HSE24 37 2018 shopping and entertainment channel

Other national channels





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

  • HorseTV
  • Passione Pesca
  • Subacquea TV

Foreign channels

Italian programming

Top Crime

Premium Crime


Universal Channel

Former 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 Comcast'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 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
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 Italia <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 <0.90 1.09 1.4 1.53 1.52
9 DMAX 2011 Discovery Italia 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 Sky Italia 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
Warner Bros. Discovery
<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. ^ a b c "Sintesi Mensile 1A" (PDF). Auditel. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  2. ^ "Country profile: Italy". BBC News. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  3. ^ "Our new digital friend? We now trust online news as we trust TV and newspapers". TNS US. December 15, 2008. Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  4. ^ Retrieved October 2, 2020. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "SWITCH OFF FOR 2012". September 1, 2006. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  6. ^ "EU wants Italy to clarify frequency distribution rules". Broadband TV News. July 2008. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  7. ^ "Digitale Terrestre Parte in Sardegna lo switch-off" (in Italian). NonSoloCinema. October 15, 2008. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  8. ^ "RAI and Mediaset plan Italian freesat Broadband TV News". Broadband TV News. January 20, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  9. ^ "Legge 103/75 Nuove norme in materia di diffusione radiofonica e televisiva" (in Italian). Agcom. Archived from the original on March 2, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2009.