The European Commission is to clear News Corp’s Sky Italia to bid for a broadcasting frequency on Italy’s digital television platform. The Commission is likely to allow News Corp to bid for one frequency and to use it for operating free-to-air channels, according to reports.
The clearance will ease European Union restrictions for Sky Italia agreed in 2003 when the satellite broadcaster started operating and was the only player in the pay-TV market. In return for being allowed to set up Sky Italia in 2003, merging two other Italian pay-TV operators, News Corp agreed not to move into the Italian digital TV market until the end of 2011. Sky Italia, News Corp’s satellite unit, has since asked the Commission to remove the restriction, saying the competitive landscape in Italy has changed with rival Mediaset launching its own pay-TV operations.
Both Mediaset and state broadcaster RAI have opposed the easing of the restrictions, arguing the Italian pay-TV market still isn’t sufficiently open to competition.