News Corp embarks on channels push, launches DTT channel in Italy

News Corp is launching a free-to-air digital channel in Italy.

Cielo, Italian for Sky, will launch next month. It will operate separately from News Corp-owned pay-TV operator Sky Italia, with News Corporation Stations Europe, which operates free TV in Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey, running programming. Cielo will offer Italian dramas and reality TV shows along with Hollywood movies and dramas. The channel will go up against Mediaset and Rai in an attempt to lure viewers that don’t subscribe to Sky Italia.

The news of the Italian launch comes as News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch issued bullish forecasts for the international market and said his company will launch a raft of new channels this year.

“We see relatively undeveloped [international] markets and they are all growing in pay television I think in double digits, 15 or 18% on average throughout the world”, Murdoch told investors in  the wake of the company’s first quarter 2010 results. “How many channels are we going to start this year? I don’t know. I think it is in the area of another 30 but I need to check that figure,” he added.