Italy investigates sale of soccer rights to Sky Italia, Mediaset

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Italy's antitrust authority AGCM is investigating the sale of Serie A soccer rights to Sky Italia and Mediaset on suspicion the deal may have violated competition laws and excluded new entrants, the watchdog said on Tuesday.

Sky Italia, part of Sky Plc, and Mediaset were awarded rights last June to broadcast matches of the eight main teams in the top tier of Italian soccer in the three seasons to 2018 after an auction that was delayed by legal complaints from rivals.

The official outcome of the auction was tweaked in a deal that gave Sky Italia exclusive rights to broadcast matches of the other 12 teams in Serie A, a package initially awarded to Mediaset.

The sale of Serie A soccer rights is worth nearly 1 billion euros ($1.11 billion) a season.

Mediaset said in a statement on Tuesday that the final agreements relating to the allocation of the rights had received the green light from the communications regulator as well as the competition watchdog.

"Mediaset is absolutely convinced that the allocation of the TV rights was done correctly," it said.

Sky Italia said late on Tuesday that it is confident it had operated with integrity throughout the process and is cooperating fully with the authorities.

The Italian soccer league declined to comment.

In its statement, AGCM said the investigation also involved the Italian soccer league and Infront, the Swiss-based agency that managed the auction process. It said the investigation will have to be completed by the end of April 2016.

An Infront statement said that it is cooperating with AGCM.

As part of its investigation, AGCM said it searched the offices of the companies involved earlier on Tuesday, helped by the financial police.

Both Sky Italia and Mediaset already have rights to air Serie A soccer matches in previous seasons.

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