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After paying €700 million for the exclusive three-year rights for the UEFA Champions League in Italy, Mediaset now risks not getting a full return on the investment.
A row has erupted after German broadcaster ZDF broadcasted the Bayer Leverkusen-Lazio return leg of the qualifications for Europe’s top football competition free-to-air via satellite, earlier this week. The same match was advertised by Mediaset as an exclusive for subscribers to its Premium pay-TV service.
However, both Italian TV viewers equipped with an FTA box as well as Sky Italia subscribers were able to watch the match without encryption. In fact, Sky Italia even includes ZDF in its channel line-up at position 546.
This comes only days after Mediaset announced it would be encrypting its three main FTA channels on satellite, making them unavailable to Sky Italia subscribers, due to a lack of agreement on carriage fees.
Mediaset may be in further problems, as ZDF will be continue live coverage of the UEFA Champions League. In fact, the draw for the group stage has paired Juventus with Borussia Monchengladbach, while Roma will face Bayer Leverkusen.
In attempt to protect its investment, Mediaset has intervened with UEFA which has promised it will investigate the issue of signal “overspilling”. However, it remains unclear what steps will be taken, as ZDF (or any other European broadcaster) cannot encrypt its satellite TV signal for just one country.