Milan

Telecom Italia to decide sale of broadcast unit by Feb 7

PD worried La7 may be weakened

Telecom Italia to decide sale of broadcast unit by Feb 7

Milan, January 17 - Telecom Italia's board will pursue its plan to sell its broadcasting unit Telecom Italia Media, including Italy's seventh-biggest TV channel La7, and it will make a decision before February 7, according to a source present during a directors' meeting on Thursday. Talks with potentially interested buyers - Italian investment firms Clessidra and Equinox, as well as investors from Cairo - are continuing, the source added. Italian media had reported that Telecom Italia, Italy's former state-owned telecommunications company, aimed to sell its 77% stake in the unit by the end of 2012 to help cut its debt. The centre-left Democratic Party voiced concern over the sale "apparently without adequate competitive bids" because of the risk of La7 being weakened. The station ranks seventh after the three Mediaset channels owned by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and RAI state broadcaster's three channels, and is seen as adding a broadly left-leaning voice to the TV scene. It achieved record ratings when Silvio Berlusconi recently stood up to long-time foes on a show previously hosted by RAI, boosting the ex-premier in polls ahead of the February 24-25 general election.

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