Italian regulator opens RAI channels probe

From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Italy's Communications Authority has opened its investigation into the satellite distribution of RAI channels, although it has has no objections to the launch of the TivùSat platform, set up jointly with Mediaset and Telecom Italia Media.

According to the Authority, the inquiry “will determine the distribution mode for the smart cards (including for Italians abroad), the criteria for the distribution of TV programmes without foreign TV rights, the possibilty of all users receiving the programming of the public service free of charge on all distribution platforms similarly to other European countries". The move has been made necessary "in order to provide answers to the concerns expressed by consumers and in order to enable the development of competition on the basis of content offered and not based on the devices used". The inquiry will also verify whether RAI is respecting its obligations as a public service provider.

However, the Authority ruled that there are no reasons to launch an inquiry into the setting up of TivùSat "as the smart-cards are not used for the reception for pay-TV programmes and the DTH platform offers its own services to all third parties under equal, transparent and non-discriminatory conditions".

TivùSat, which launched on July 31st, has yet to make an impact on the Italian DTH market, as the 4-5 per cent of the population (1.2-1.3 million households) not covered entirely or partly by DTT have yet to equip themselves with the digital boxes. The excessive cost of the decoders and their scarce distribution has meant that only about 10,000 TivuSat cards have been activated so far.

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