La7 is an Italian private television channel (usually referred to as "the Seventh Channel") and considered as the third major network in Italy. It is currently owned by Telecom Italia Media, the media branch of the telephone company Telecom Italia, which also owns 51% of MTV Italia. Usually its programs are more cultural-oriented, although it also airs some sport games. Recently it started broadcasting using the Digital Terrestrial Television format, offering some pay-tv services (especially soccer games, movies and concerts).
In 2001, Lorenzo Pellicioli and Roberto Colaninno, of Telecom Italia announced they had acquired the TV station, in order to create a strong competitor against the six other national channels in Italy. However, against all the ambitions shown initially by the owner and the initial premises, like the hiring of popular TV hosts, anchors and journalists like Fabio Fazio, Gad Lerner and Giuliano Ferrara, nowadays La7 still has ratings and shares much lower than its major competitors: the three RAI public channels, and the three Mediaset private ones. One of the reasons, according to La7 sources, is that in a media landscape dominated by the absolute political control of the media, and by the unique monopoly on commercial television by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a politically independent channel would only be allowed to survive on the condition it could not grow above a certain level. In other words, a fig leaf to pretend there is a plurality of voices in what is an otherwise profoundly undemocratic television landscape.