The Council of State, the highest Italian legal-administrative body, has ruled that the channel encrypting by the public service broadcaster RAI is illegal. This marks an important victory for Sky Italia; RAI had been encrypting certain programmes on Sky’s satellite platform including newscasts and important exclusives such as the Italian national football team’s matches.
The ruling confirms the decision taken by the Lazio regional court in 2012 that ruled in Sky’s favour and against which RAI appealed: but the court ruled that as a public service broadcaster RAI must respect the technological neutrality principle and guarantee equal distribution conditions in the TV market.
Distributing the content just on TvSat, a free-to-air digital satellite television platform launched by the joint venture between RAI, Mediaset and Telecom Italia Media, is not sufficient (its signal does not even cover every area). The courts also noted that Sky does not get any substantial financial gain from the broadcasting of RAI programming.
In 2009 Sky offered €350 million for the right to broadcast certain premium channels as well as RAI’s FTA channels. Shortly after, RAI began encrypting some FTA broadcasts.