This year's edition of Italy's long-running Festivalbar contest is to be downscaled.

Although organizers have yet to make an official statement, sources say the festival, which plays in different cities throughout Italy, will lose some elements this year due in part to a lack of sponsorship and worries about dwindling TV audiences.

The itinerant summer festival has been a key part of the Italian musical calendar since 1964.

It was originally designed to choose the hit song of the summer, but its TV-friendly format, which consists of free live shows in a series of picturesque Italian venues, has made it a major showcase opportunity for local and foreign acts. In recent years each evening of the event has been broadcast a few days later in separate parts on the Silvio-Berlusconi-owned network, Italia Uno.

The program usually ranges from three to four dates per summer, with the final night taking place in Verona's splendid Roman Arena in early September. This year's calendar was believed to have consisted of dates in Palermo on July 2 and Padua on July 11, in addition to Verona.

Industry sources say that the Palermo leg has been canceled and that Padua has been shifted to July 2, while the Verona finale is expected to go ahead. A Festivalbar spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Festivalbar's two compilation albums (the publication of which rotates among the major labels) invariably dominate the album charts. This year's compilations are expected to be released on June 12 by EMI and Warner, respectively.