Italian investors to revive 'L'Unita'

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ROME--L'Unita, the once vital, left-wing newspaper that shut down its printing presses in July and then made a half-hearted attempt to continue publishing online, will appear on Italian newsstands by the end of September, the newspaper's publisher says.

The online version of the newspaper, which has been updated only irregularly since the print version ceased, will continue with the same editorial content as the paper version of the newspaper.

L'Unita was closed after hemorrhaging money for more than two years, but publisher Alessandro Dalai says a group of investors have earmarked around $12 million to bankroll the newspaper's resurrection. Mr. Dalai says the group includes publishing house Baldini & Castoldi, where Mr. Dalai is currently employed, and venture capitalist Marco Boglione, the top shareholder for clothes brand Robe di Kappa.

Officials say there are changes in the cards for the 76-year-old newspaper, which was long the official publication of record for the Italian Communist Party. The new version of L'Unita will be more mainstream and will try to make itself more attractive to advertisers through the use of special inserts and more aggressive sales strategies. But the editorial stance will remain the same.

"The newspaper will still be called L'Unita and it will still be a left-wing daily," he says. "But other aspects will change to make the newspaper more viable."

Perhaps the biggest change will be that the Democratic Left political party, which kept L'Unita afloat most of its last year, will not be one of the publication's shareholders. It will mark the first time since the newspaper was first published in 1924 that a political party will not be among its owners.

Circulation efforts will start with the list of former subscribers and on developing new bases in large cities. A radio and outdoor advertising campaign to alert readers to the newspaper's rebirth will be mounted.

Copyright September 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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