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Canale 5: the young and the challenged.

Canale 5, Italy's second largest TV network, seems to be always stuck with a young, well-paid manager and an older, lower middle class audience.

From the beginning Canale 5, Fininvest's oldest network, has been run by young, energetic executives. The current director is 33-year-old Giorgio Gori.

However, the overall direction to all Fininvest's TV networks is still coming directly from owner Silvio Berlusconi during the now famous Friday afternoon meetings with his top-level TV staff.

This fact seems to be ingrained in the mind of Gori, who worked under Canale 5's two previous bosses: Carlo Freccero and Roberto Giovalli. In both cases, young and capable programmers tried to shake loose from Berlusconi's interference, but failed and paid for it.

Freccero was, for a brief period, "exiled" to France to run the now defunct Berlusconi part-owned La Cinq TV net. Giovalli, after a short "sabbatical," came back to Berlusconi and now runs the pay-TV service, TelePiu.

Of Berlusconi's three commercial TV networks, Canale 5 is the one designed as the locomotive: The network that takes precedence and more consideration, but also the one that has to deliver the largest number or viewers in the 24-49 age group.

The young, but even younger-looking Gori has been involved with Berlusconi's TV operations since 1984 when, at the age of 24, he joined Giovalli from a job at Rete 4 with Freccero. At that time Rete 4 was still owned by Mondadori (today Berlusconi also owns Mondadori).

Up until 1989 all of Fininvest's networks' scheduling was done by one group of programmers. Only recently, each station's executive is responsible for his own network, but still works in close contact with the others: Carlo Vetrugno for Italia 1, Michele Franceschelli for Rete 4, and Gori for Canale 5. The networks are to complement each other and compete only with RAI's three channels.

The outcome of this reorganization is that Berlusconi's ltalia 1 is programmed for a young audience and Rete 4 for a female viewership, leaving Canale 5 as the general audience channel.

Gori, an architect by education, was introduced to television in 1977 when he began hosting a show on a small local station in his native Bergamo. Subsequently, Gori worked as a journalist before joining Rete 4 in early 1984.

Gori's young appearance and nonchalant attitude have not been lost to Italy's cartoonists and newspaper editors. The recently-divorced Gori is becoming a familiar face to million of readers of tabloids; recently, he was featured in a political-satirical newspaper in a photo montage showing him naked. Cartoonists also never seem to miss an opportunity to satirize him in their sketches.

Gori's recent popularity, much greater than that enjoyed by his predecessors or the current executives at Berlusconi's other stations, is attributed to the growing success of Canale 5. According to recent figures, ratings reached prime-time-shares of 18, just 7 points below that of RAI-1, Italy's oldest and most popular TV network. Canale 5, Fininvest's "historic" station, started as a national network in late 1979. It offers broad, family audience programming that is strong in movies, serials, variety and talk shows.

Some 65 per cent of Canale 5 schedule is made up of in-house produced programs. Fininvest's three TV networks are grouped under Reti Televisive Italiane (RTI), while acquisitions fall under the banner of Silvio Berlusconi Communications (SBC). Reteitalia is now part of SBC and is involved with productions; SBC also acts as Fininvest's TV program sales arm under former ad man Giovanni Stabilini.

Acquisitions, headed by Daniele Lorenzano, are centralized for all of Berlusconi's networks, including pay-TV. Lorenzano keeps all network heads informed of what's available. They call Lorenzano when they need a specific program. The allocation of acquired highly desirable programs is sorted out among the networks' executives.
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Title Annotation:Italy's second largest TV network
Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Mini to mini - majors from a battered TV landscape.
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