Berlusconi and Italian television, from the beginning with Canale 5 to Mediaset

From the network of small local broadcasters to the foundation of one of the most important television poles in the world: this is how the former prime minister changed the history of television in our country forever

The first date: 16 October 1984. The magistrates of Milan, Rome and Pescara order the seizure of the system which allows the Fininvest networks to broadcast simultaneously throughout Italy, using their network of local broadcasters as if it were a single national broadcaster: the program schedule and commercials were recorded a day in advance, all in twenty cassettes which were then broadcast simultaneously. For the magistrates it is a full-blown circumvention of the law, which however changes the face of a company and of the entire sector: if in 1980 Fininvest’s turnover revolved 60% around the construction sector, 4 years later the situation was reversed: the 85% of turnover comes from TV. Berlusconi does not accept the stop of the magistrates and knocks on the right door: after four days, on 20 October 1984, the government of Bettino Craxi issues a decree law able to put the group back into activity (GOODBYE TO SILVIO BERLUSCONI, LA DIRETTA).

The arrival of Mike Bongiorno, Corrado, Vianello and Mondaini

A step back for the second date. 12 November 1979. The “Canale 5” trademark, owned by Fininvest (a company founded by Berlusconi the year before), was registered in Milan. The “5” has an ambitious heart: the intention of the new TV to position itself immediately after the three Rai and Telemontecarlo networks. Mike Bongiorno is called to direct the programs of Canale 5. Then will come, Corrado, Raimondo Vianello and Sandra Mondaini, Maurizio Costanzo, and proposed successful serials, one for all: Dallas. Between 1980 and 1981, the revenues of Publitalia ’80 (the group’s advertising safe) went from 13,000,000,000 to 75,000,000,000 lire, consecrating the reached maturity of alternative national TV advertising to the RAI channels.

The purchase of Italia 1 in 1982 and of Rete 4 in 1984

With the tailwind of Canale 5 in 1982 Berlusconi acquired Italia 1, from the publisher Edilio Rusconi, and two years later Rete 4, which was owned by Mondadori. In 1990 the “Mammì law” reorganized the national radio and television system. The Mediaset newscasts were born, initially on Italia 1 with Studio Aperto, and later with TG4 and TG5. Third date. January 18, 1994: Forza Italia is born. Just 8 days after the now famous and historic televised speech in which Berlusconi, proving to be a superb man of television, explains the reasons for his descent into the field. The rest is history.