With the rise in popularity of TV drama - which accounted for 800 hours of programming in the 2006-07 season, up from 130 hours 10 years ago - it could be assumed features are feeling the squeeze in Italian TV schedules.

But the country's two main broadcasters, state-run Rai and the private Mediaset, both say they remain committed to cinema and are among the most generous in Europe. "We are absolutely not decreasing investment," says Rai Cinema's COO Paolo Del Brocco. "In fact we are doing the opposite. Even if we have production investment requirements, and if our films are not usually shown in primetime, they do go on TV and we are investing more."

Stand-alone film unit Rai Cinema was created in 2000 - as a result of 1998's law 122, which makes it a requirement for broadcasters to invest in Italian film production. Rai invests $64m-$71m (EUR45m-EUR50m) annually in local production.

Mediaset, too, is obliged to invest and ploughs $70.5m (EUR50m) into acquiring local films. This summer, Mediaset picked up leading production company Medusa Film, indicating its interest in acquiring content. Medusa separately invests $71m (EUR50m) in local production.

"It shows the group wants to invest in cinema, and that it considers Italian cinema an important product," says Medusa chief executive Giampaolo Letta. "As a private company, of course Mediaset invests as part of a business model," he adds. "But clearly when it comes to cinema, particularly involvement in festivals and in young talent, there is also a cultural value."

Letta also notes that while Mediaset will not be directly producing films, it is now the only shareholder in Medusa and will continue to take rights to films produced and acquired by the company.

News Corp's Sky Italia entered the Italian TV landscape in 2003 and, while not required by law 122, other agreements with the association of independent producers API and Anica (Italy's motion picture organisation) set Sky's current required investment in purchasing local films at $49.4m (EUR35m) annually. Italy is also expecting a new media reform law - in late 2007 or early 2008 - but it remains to be seen how this will affect the current market.


Since the creation of law 122 in 1998, Italian broadcasters are required to invest in local film production.


Rai Cinema: invests $45m (EUR50m) in film production

Credits include: Galantuomini (Edoardo Winspeare), 2061 (Carlo Vanzina), Parlami d'Amore (Silvio Muccino), Piano, Solo (Riccardo Milani), L'ora Di Punta (Vincenzo Marra).

Medusa: Invests $70.5m (EUR50m) in film production

Credits include: Come Tu Mi Vuoi (Volfango De Biasi), Scusa Se Ti Chiamo Amore (Federico Moccia), The Sweet And The Bitter (Il Dolce E L'amaro, Andrea Porporati), The Unknown (Giuseppe Tornatore)

Sky Italia: Invests $49.4m (EUR35m) in acquiring Italian titles for pay-TV.