Sky Italia abuse on World Cup rights?

Italy’s Antitrust Authority is to launch an investigation to see if Sky Italia has abused its dominant position in the acquisition of rights to broadcast the 2010 and 2014 World Cup, in pay-TV mode for all broadcasting platforms.

The action is based on a complaint by Mediaset from May 2010 in which it denounced the refusal by Sky Italia to sell the digital terrestrial TV rights, a distribution platform on which Sky Italia was not present.

According to the Authority, the decision of Sky Italia, which has 86 per cent of the Italian pay TV market, to purchase the pay-TV rights from RAI in 2008, exclusively for all broadcasting platforms, “could constitute an anti-competitive abuse of exclusionary nature”, given the importance of the contents and the extension of exclusivity rights.

In a statement, the Antitrust further explains that at the time of purchase from RAI in 2008 “was in full force the ban imposed by the European Commission to broadcast on platforms other than satellite until 2012”. With its behaviour, Sky Italia “made unavailable on the market the TV rights to broadcast the 2010 and 2014 World Cup, in pay-TV mode, for competing operators that operate on other broadcasting platforms.”

The initial investigation must be completed by 30 November 2011. Sky Italia said it was surprised of the Authority’s actions, adding that “real competition can be unpopular with some operators used to dominate the Italian TV market”.

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