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Italy Okays Worldspace; First European Service

Italy Okays Worldspace; First European Service

WorldSpace will no longer be limited to providing satellite radio service for third-world countries; it starts transmitting digital programming into Italy by 2007. This will be the service’s first European market.
The country recently approved the subscription and data service. The Italian Ministry of Communications granted WorldSpace Italia the right to use the frequency band 1479.5-1492 MHz. It plans to use satellites and a terrestrial repeater network to blanket the country.
WorldSpace Italia S.p.A. is a majority-owned subsidiary of Viatis Satellite Radio, the WorldSpace European holding company. WorldSpace Italia’s other partner is New Satellite Radio S.r.l., an Italian company whose primary shareholder is Class Editori S.p.A., an Italian financial, media and broadcast corporation based in Milan.
New Satellite Radio holds a 35 percent interest in WorldSpace Italia and is expected to play a role in the WorldSpace Italian operations, including distribution arrangements, such as OEM partnerships, content supply and acquisition, and marketing, the company said.
WorldSpace Italia anticipates launching Europe’s first satellite digital radio and data service to portable and vehicular devices in 2007, using one satellite already in orbit, and a terrestrial gap-filler network to be rolled out in all major cities throughout Italy. The government is still scrutinizing the installation plan. At maturity, WorldSpace hopes to transmit 50 channels into Italy.
Italy’s population is around 58 million, and WorldSpace believes nearly two-thirds of those potential listeners are within its target demo.
There are 33 million registered automobiles in Italy, and more than 2 million new cars sold there annually, according to the satellite radio company.