Italy''s sell-through video market was worth (lira708bn) in 1999 - more than the beer and ice-cream markets - according to a report from trade organisation Univideo. The rental market in 1999 was worth (lira300bn).

However the report also found that market growth is being restricted by piracy and the reluctance of Italian consumers to purchase videocassettes. Only 50% of VCR owners prefer to buy videos rather than tape from TV or borrow from a friend. But 20% of consumers are frequent buyers, who purchase an average of 10 videocassettes a year.

According to the Intellectual Property Alliance, piracy accounts for about (lira320bn) or about 25-30% of Italy''s sell-through market. A new copyright law is due to be passed in the Italian parliament next week, which would impose heavy fines on people who buy pirate videos and CDs.

Eight of the top ten best-selling videos in Italy in 1999 were animations and Buena Vista''s The Lion King II came top of the list. Roberto Benigni''s Life Is Beautiful and The Iron Mask were the only non-animated features to make it into the video sales top ten.