Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is interested in buying an Italian television channel, setting up a potential face-off with his old business rival, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, ANSA reported Monday.
The Italian news agency cited informed sources saying Murdoch's News Corp media empire had expressed an interest in the La7 channel to its owners Telecom Italia Media.
Berlusconi's Mediaset company, which already owns three national television channels in Italy, earlier signalled it too was looking into a possible purchase.
Mediaset's interest has prompted howls of protest from Berlusconi critics, who say it would further concentrate his considerable media power.
La7's news broadcasts have earned a strong reputation for editorial independence and they are led by former Mediaset anchor Enrico Mentana, who has said he will resign if Berlusconi's conglomerate takes over.
Murdoch already has a foothold on the Italian media landscape through Sky Italia, which has become Italy's largest pay-television service and is one of the major bones of contention between the Australian tycoon and his Italian media counterparts.
The rivalry between the two veterans -- Murdoch is 81 and Berlusconi 75 -- has also been more personal. IN 2009, for instance, Berlusconi accused Murdoch of stirring up a sex scandal to discredit him through his newspaper The Times of London.
The deadline for non-binding offers for the La7 channel is next Monday.