The value of recorded music shipments in Italy in 2003 fell 7.69% from the previous year to €314 million ($392 million), according to new figures from Italian industry body FIMI. Volume fell 7.

The value of recorded music shipments in Italy in 2003 fell 7.69% from the previous year to €314 million ($392 million), according to new figures from Italian industry body FIMI. Volume fell 7.87% to 36 million units.

CD album shipments fell 3.26% in value to €306.5 million ($383 million), and 1.49% in volume to 33.7 million units.

The diminishing CD single format fell 18.2% in value to €7.7 million ($9.6 million) and 18.6% in units to 2.5 million.

In separate news, FIMI has described as "insulting" recent comments made in the local press by Tony Renis, artistic director of the Sanremo Festival. Renis reportedly referred to those artists who declined to attend this year's festival as "wimps" who had succumbed to pressure from their record companies.

Renis' comments were made in the weekly Sorrisi & Canzoni magazine, which will be distributing a compilation album tied to the Festival. As previously reported, FIMI members will not be attending this year's Sanremo Festival, which runs March 2-6, due to an ongoing dispute with the organizers and RAI TV over expenses owed from previous editions.

The Sanremo Festival has been the key event in the Italian music calendar since the early '50s.

Finally, in other news from Italy, the anti-piracy "Music Marathon" has kicked off in the Sicilian capital of Palermo. The event, which began Thursday (Feb. 26), consists of 10 showcases and other music programs and will run until May.

The event is expected to attract up to 20,000 youngsters. Promoter Event 42 is organizing the Music Marathon, along with the city of Palermo and anti-piracy group FPM. Sicily, like Naples, has been hit hard by music piracy and organized crime.

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