Murdoch, Berlusconi sons meeting in Italy

The sons of the leading shareholders from Italian broadcast giant Mediaset and News Corp. met Friday and were expected to keep talking into the weekend to discuss each company’s strategies in Italy, Italian news outlets reported.

When contacted Friday, Mediaset confirmed that Mediaset’s Pier Silvio Berlusconi and News Corp.’s James Murdoch — the sons of each company’s controlling shareholder, Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch, respectively — were in contact, but the company did not discuss the meetings beyond that.

The talks come during a period of rapid change in Italy’s television sector. Earlier Friday, Italy’s communications regulator suspended plans to change the rules for television advertising, leaving the old rules in place for at least 90 more days.

In January, Mediaset announced a content deal with Warner Bros. and Universal and said it would expand its Mediaset Premium pay TV networks, putting it on a collision course with News Corp. subsidiary Sky Italia.

Before they became competitors, the elder Berlusconi and Murdoch had cooperated for several years, seeking changes in Italian media laws and opposing the expansion of Italian state broadcaster RAI, a rival to both companies.

In the current context, Mediaset’s goal, the younger Berlusconi said in a statement released in mid-January, “is not a bloody war with Sky, but to compete and try to co-habit.”

As of late Friday, there was no indication of what was discussed between the two men or if an official announcement would be made at some point to summarize the conclusions they reached.
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