Before 1996. The Mediaset Group story began in the late '70s, when the entrepreneur Silvio Berlusconi founded a local cable TV channel called Telemilano in a new residential area.
Two years later, in 1980, it was transformed into Canale 5 and, thanks to regulatory modernisation, it began to broadcast across the country, something that had previously been forbidden by Italian law.
It was a big news for Italian viewers because the only national television broadcaster was Rai, a state-owned entity that ran a television monopoly with three channels.
In order to compete on an equal footing with public service TV, also the new private commercial television broadcaster created a three-channel hub: Canale 5 was joined first by Italia 1 (bought from the publisher Rusconi in 1982) and then by Retequattro (bought from the Arnoldo Mondadori publishing group in 1984).
This new television hub was called Rti (Reti televisive italiane) and was supported by an exclusive advertising sales company called Publitalia'80 and by two other companies: Videotime, that was responsible for the entire technological and production side, and Elettronica Industriale, which ensured the broadcasting of the television signal through the management of the transmission network.
The control of Rti, Publitalia, Videotime and Elettronica Industriale was then brought together under a single company, Mediaset: and the Mediaset Group was born.
1996 Mediaset is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, opening up the shareholding to major institutional and small private investors (around 300,000).
1997 See the beginning of foreign expansion with the acquisition of a 25% stake in the Spanish private commercial broadcaster Telecinco.
1999 The Group expands its activity to the web with Mediaset.it (a TV portal dedicated to Canale 5, Italia 1 and Retequattro) and Mediaset Online (in 2001 it would become TgCom), an online news service, accessible across a range of media (the web, television, radio, Mediavideo teletext and mobile phones).
2003 Mediaset increases its stake in Telecinco becoming the major shareholder with a 50.1% stake. The following year, Spanish TV company is listed on the Madrid Stock Exchange.
2004 Sees the launch in Italy of digital terrestrial TV, a system that makes it possible to transmit many more channels than the analogue system. Mediaset begins by launching Boing, a network for children, and Mediashopping, a guaranteed teleshopping channel.
2005 The Group launches Mediaset Premium: a digital terrestrial pay-TV service that offers viewers live Serie A football matches on TV, using a prepaid card, without a subscription. Mediaset Premium also offers first-run films, theatre and live pay-per-view events.
2007 In a consortium with Cyrte Found and Goldhman Sachs, Mediaset takes control of Endemol, the world's leading producer of TV formats, from Telefonica.
- Madiaset also acquires Medusa, Italy's leading production and distribution company,
- The year also sees the launch of a new free digital terrestrial channel: Iris, a channel for great auteur films, music, literature and theatre.
2008 An agreement is signed for the acquisition of Taodue, Italys leading production company for quality fiction
- launches Premium Gallery, a new offer of premium content that can be purchased using the prepaid digital terrestrial card. Gallery offers the best TV series and the American films by Time Warner and NBC-Universal exclusively in Italy.
- Also the Disney Channel and Premium Calcio 24 become available on the platform.
2009 Publitalia '80 and Mondadori Pubblicitā define an agreement for the sale of online advertising and a new jointly-owned company is set up, Mediamond.
- TivųSat is born, Italy's first Italian free satellite digital platform, created by Tivų Srl.. a company owned by Rai (48.25%), Mediaset (48.25%) and Telecom Italia Media (3.5%). TivųSat is complementary to the digital terrestrial platform, able to reach the areas of the country not covered by terrestrial networks.
- In Spain, Mediaset SpA., Gestevision Telecinco SA and Promotora de Informaciones SA (Prisa Group) announce the acquisition by Telecinco of a newly established company, which includes the business unit of Cuatro (a Spanish free-to-air television network owned by Sogecable SA,) and a 22% stake in Digital Plus. These operations make the Mediaset Group's the leading commercial television operator in Spain.
2010 Sees the online debut of www.video.mediaset.it, a catch-up TV service that allows viewers to watch again, on demand, all of the Mediaset television programmes broadcast during the previous days.
- The new NewsMediaset structure is created, an authentic internal news agency to provide images, news and services to all of Mediaset's news outlets.
- On 12 May, Mediaset launches La5, a new free digital terrestrial network, broadcast 24 hours a day with content aimed mainly at the female audience.
- On 26 November, Mediaset Extra is launched, a new free thematic channel dedicated to the retransmission of the best of past and present entertainment programmes form the Mediaset channels.
2011 Sees the launch of Premium Net TV, a new non-linear TV system that guarantees 6,000 items of content that can be watched at any time with just a click.
- In July, Mediaset launches two new channels, further enhancing the pay offer of the Mediaset Premium digital terrestrial platform: Premium Crime dedicated to all fans of crime and police procedurals and Premium Cinema Comedy for those who love outstanding Italian and American comedy.
- Italia 2 begins broadcasting, the new free digital terrestrial network offers TV series, films, documentaries, cartoons, sports and entertainment selected for a young, mainly male audience.
- Cartoonito is launched, a free digital terrestrial network for pre-school children (up to 6 years old). Cartoonito, like Boing, is the result of a joint venture between Mediaset and Turner Broadcasting System Europe Limited, and expands the Mediaset free offer for children and teenagers.
- The merger by incorporation of EI Towers into DMT is approved.
- Premium Play is born, a new service that upgrades and replaces Premium Net TV: the technological level, ease of use, quality and the freshness of the content are al characterised by unprecedented innovation.
- TgCom24 becomes an unencrypted all-news channel, live on channel 51 of the digital terrestrial platform, on channel 24 of the satellite platform and continues to operate online on the TgCom24.it site, on smartphones and tablets thanks to free downloadable apps.
2013 Mediaset Espaņa secures "free" transmission rights for 25 matches of the Football World Cup - including those of the Spanish national team - which takes place in Brazil between 12 June and 13 July 2014.
- Mediaset and Fox International Channels Italy reach an agreement for the distribution as part of the Mediaset Premium bouquet of the new "Fox Sports" channel, which broadcasts exclusive live coverage of the major European football leagues.
- Mediaset also reaches an agreement with the Eurosport Group for the distribution as part of the Mediaset Premium bouquet of the "Eurosport" and "Eurosport2" channels that expand Mediaset's pay-TV offer to major sports events other than football: the best tennis tournaments, the major stage races and classic cycling compatitions, winter sports, motor sports, athletics and swimming, not to mention basketball, handball, hockey and a range of other emerging sports.
- The Mediaset Group launches Infinity, Italy's first OTT service, offering subscribers streaming access to a catalogue of more than 6,000 titles including films, TV series, TV drama and TV shows.
2014 Mediaset wins exclusive rights for Italy, on all platforms, for live coverage of all of the matches and highlights of the Champions League for the three-year period 2015-2018.
2015 A contract with the Spanish operator Telefonica is signed for the acquisition of an 11.1% stake in Mediaset Premium at a cost of ?100 million.
- Mediaset signs an agreement with Warner and Universal that ensures the Group the exclusive availability, in Italy, of the films and TV series distributed by the two US majors for the period 2016-2020 and 2016-2018, respectively.
- Mediaset asks Sky to pay a "retransmission fee" for the unauthorised exploitation of the Group's free television channels on the satellite platform. Sky refuses to recognise the requested value and Mediaset decides to encrypt its channels on the paid satellite platform starting from midnight on 7 September 2015.
2016 Mediaset and the French group Vivendi sign a binding contract for a strategic alliance through which Mediaset becomes the owner of 3.5% of the share capital of Vivendi while the latter acquires 100% of Mediaset Premium and 3.5% of the capital of Mediaset. On the eve of the closing (25 July 2016) Vivendi announces its intention not to respect the commitments undertaken. On 19 August, Mediaset files a suit in the Court of Milan for the a compulsory execution of the contract. In response, Vivendi launches a hostile takeover and on 22 December informs the market that it holds 28.8% of Mediaset's ordinary share capital, the equivalent of 29.94% of the voting rights. The operation ends up under the spotlight of Consob, AgCom and the Milan Public Prosecutor's Office, which leads to a criminal investigation for market manipulation.
- Also in 2016, Mediaset creates Italy's leading group of radio stations in terms of both ratings and advertising. The new company is named "RadioMediaset" and brings together the commercial radio stations R101, Radio 105 and Virgin Radio and a partnership with Radio MonteCarlo.
2017 Mediaset acquires a 5.5% stake in Studio 71, Europe's leading Multichannel Network - and one of the top five in the world - controlled by the German group ProSiebenSat.1Media. A joint venture, "Studio 71 Italia" is also set up, of which Mediaset has a 49% stake and through which the entire Italian business of Studio 71 is managed.
- The Mediaset Board of Directors approves the Mediaset 2020 Plan, containing the development guidelines and 2017-2020 economic-financial objectives. The plan foresees an increase from 37.4% to 39.0% of Mediaset's total advertising market share and an improvement in EBIT for the company's Italian media assets of ?468 million.
- The Italian Communications Authority rules that Vivendi's holdings in Mediaset and Telecom Italia are non-compliant and orders the French company to corrects its position.
- Mediaset acquires 100% of the free TV channel Retecapri, associated with LCN 20, Retecapri +1 (LCN 120), Retecapri HD (LCN 121).
- Mediaset decides not to present a bid for the Serie A pay-TV rights for the three-year period 2018-2021, considering the formulation of the tender published by the Lega Calcio unacceptable. The auction is cancelled and postponed.
- Mediaset acquires 11.1% of Mediaset Premium from Telefonica, giving the company back 100% of the capital.
- Publitalia'80 and Publiespaņa, together with TF1 (France) and ProsiebenSat1 (Germany), establish AdTech Ventures, which holds a 33% stake in the European Broadcaster Exchange (EBX) joint venture that operates in digital video programmatic advertising campaigns.
- RadioMediaset buys the companies RadioSubasio and Radio Aut, leaders in coverage and listeners in central Italy.
- Mediaset's stake in EI Towers increases to 41.74%, as a result of share buybacks by EI Towers.
- Mediaset's stake in Mediaset Espaņa increases to 51.63% as a result of share buybacks.
2018 was a key year for Mediaset thanks to seven development operations:
1. Retequattro's new-look prime time. As part of the ongoing development of the Group's offer, in 2018 Mediaset reinforced the prime time offer Retequattro with new presenters and new news, entertainment and popular science programmes, with an immediate positive impact on ratings, which rose by around 14%.
2. The launch of two new TV channels. The year saw the launch of two new free-to-air thematic channels: "Focus" e "20" which lifted Mediaset's share of the free-to-air thematic channel area to around 7.0% in prime time.
3. Investments in sports events. In 2018 the Mediaset Group broadcast exclusively the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia in both Italy and Spain. For the first time in Italy, Mediaset offered not only live coverage of all the matches, but also free-to-air for all Italians. The year also saw the confirmation of the multi-year agreement for exclusive rights for the races of Formula E, the world championship for electric car racing. The first E-Prix in Rome was was a great event, attracting international attention and also excellent TV ratings.
4. The reorganisation of pay-TV. Despite Vivendi's well-known about-turn on Premium, Mediaset, as announced in the 2020 Plan in London, in 2018 completed the reorganisation of its pay-TV operations. The asset Operation Pay of Premium was contributed to the new-co R2 which reached an agreement with Sky. Moreover, Mediaset will continue to broadcast pay channels to be distributed across all the platforms.
5. The launch of the new Mediaset Play platform. Since 2018, all of Mediaset's TV content has been available free of charge on the web on Mediaset Play, a single destination that allows users to access all of Mediaset's programmes, both live and on-demand, as well as on TV, on computer or mobile device.
6. The reinforcement of the radio area. During the year the Group acquired Radio MonteCarlo, a radio station that has strengthened the Mediaset radio portfolio which is now made up of five stations: R101, Radio 105, Virgin Radio, Radio Subasio and Radio MonteCarlo. The company RadioMediaset is now stronger and is confirmed as the national leader in terms of both audience and advertising sales.
7. The new phase of the Ei Towers Group. 2018 also saw the successful conclusion of the 2018 public offering of EI Towers. The sale of control of the company by Mediaset ? which now has a 40% stake in 2iTowers which now owns 100% of the company ? resulted in a net capital gain of ?498.2 million. This represents a significant creation of value generated by a company established by Mediaset which now ? thanks to the new position as an independent operator ? can play a leading role in the national and international process of development in the transmission towers sector.
Plus, also in 2018:
- The operation was completed for the merger by incorporation of Videotime S.p.A. with Mediaset S.p.A
- Mediaset and Sky Italia signed a multi-year commercial agreement aimed at expanding the multiplatform reach of the Premium channels. From October, also Mediaset's free-to-air channels will once again be available on the satellite platform, in line with the strategy to deliver the Mediaset channels on all platforms: digital terrestrial, satellite and online streaming.
- In the context of the ongoing suit against Vivendi at the Court of Milan, Mediaset and Rti modified the demand from "fulfilment" to "contractual termination", along with a request for damages.
- Simon Fiduciaria, with which Vivendi has signed a consultancy contract for the exercise of voting rights pertaining to a 19.9% in Mediaset, was not granted access to the Shareholders' Meeting on 27 June. In the precautionary phase, the appeal made by Simon Fiduciaria was rejected by the Court of Milan on 27 November.
(updated to May 2019)
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