Warner Music Italy pop artist Marco Carta was the winner of the 59th edition of Italy's flagship Sanremo festival.

Carta, 23, who was discovered last year on the TV talent show "Amici," won the five-night festival with the song "La Forza Mia" ("My strength"), while another Warner artist, Arisa, won the 'new proposals' awards section with the song "Sincerità" ("Sincerity").

Winners were chosen by a combination of a jury vote, which was used during the early stages of the festival, and a public tele-vote, delivered by text message, for the later sections. The 16 finalists were cut down to 10 for the last night on Feb. 21, while three finalists were picked for the closing segment, with Marco Carta beating Povia and Sal Da Vinci.

Competitors in the 'new proposals' section were chosen through an on-line competition, for the first time in the festival's history.

The five-night festival was broadcast live on state-owned network Rai Uno. In recent years Sanremo has seen a steady decline in audience figures, but this year, under the artistic direction of presenter Paolo Bonolis, it received its best ratings since 2003. The average audience over the course of the five nights was 10.3 million (a share of 47.8%), as opposed to 6.6 million (35.4%) at last year's festival, which was directed and presented by Sanremo veteran Pippo Baudo.

The average audience for the first half of final night was 13.8 million (49.7% share) this year, as opposed to 9.6 million (39.5%) last year. Figures for the second half of the final night were, respectively, 11.3 million (64.1%) this year and 6.9 million (52.9%) last year.

Warner Music Italy president and CEO Massimo Giuliano tells Billboard.biz: "Sanremo had its best audience in years and we're delighted that it's made a comeback under Paolo Bonolis. Let's hope this will also be reflected in record sales."

He adds: "We're naturally delighted with Marco Carta and Arisa, not to mention the fact we have the license for the only Sanremo compilation this year. It's been a great festival for us."

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