The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that an Italian court will have to quantify the state aid, deemed illegal by the EU Commission, which Italian broadcaster Mediaset must return to the public contributions granted in Italy since 2004 for the purchase of DTT decoders.
For the EU court “the calculations made by the national judge to quantify the amounts to be recovered, taking into account all the facts brought to its attention, may also result in an amount equal to zero.”
To facilitate the transition from analogue to digital TV, the Italian Government in 2004 introduced a public contribution of €150 for each person who purchases a DTT box, a contribution then lowered to €70 in 2005.
As a result of complaints filed by Centro Europa 7 and Sky Italia, the EU Commission stated that the aid was illegal and incompatible with the internal market. After an investigation to identify the beneficiaries of the aid, the Commission indicated that the amount to be recovered by Mediaset amounted to €6.8 million, a figure later reduced to €4.9 million.
Mediaset in 2009 paid €5.9 million, but appealed to the Court of Rome, claiming inaccuracy of the calculations made to determine the additional profits resulting from the aid. An expert survey in 2011 established that it was not proven that the aid had actually affected the sales of decoders in Italy.