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Gori Urges TV Deal To Be Italian

December 4, 1998

ROME (AP) _ Italian companies should block Rupert Murdoch from acquiring a majority stake in their pay-TV venture, Italy’s leading film producer said in an interview published today.

``A foreign partner is fine. But giving him the majority would be mad,″ Vittorio Cecchi Gori was quoted as saying in La Stampa daily.

Murdoch, the Australian-born chairman and chief executive of News Corp., said last week he was close to signing a deal with Telecom Italia that would create a company to compete with Telepiu, the pay-TV unit that is 90 percent controlled by Canal Plus SA.

Pay-TV customers can order movies, sporting events and other special programs for a fee.

Cecchi Gori, whose works include the Cannes-honored ``La Vita e Bella″ (Life is Beautiful), is expected to be part of the venture, through his Media Holding.

Telecom has said it will likely reach an agreement for a digital television platform by Christmas.

However, the company’s new chief executive, Franco Bernabe, threw out a nearly completed deal with News Corp. this week, saying it involved too much financial risk.

News Corp. is a multinational media concern based in Australia. Its U.S. holdings include the Fox TV networks and the Fox film studios.

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