Monday, 24 May 2010

Serie A wins TV rights battle

An Italian court has rejected an appeal against the sale of the exclusive satellite package of Serie A television rights to Sky Italia, averting possible financial problems for Italian football.

Sky ItaliaThe appeal was filed by Conto TV, a small satellite operator, who claimed it was unfair the way Serie A television rights for the satellite platform for the next two seasons were sold to Sky.

"It does not appear that Conto TV has suffered particular disadvantages," Judge Claudio Marangoni of the business section of Milan's court wrote in his ruling earlier today.

Conto said the 1.15 billion euro deal with Sky Italia, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp media empire, was made "without competition in the digital satellite sphere" and that blocked them from bidding for the matches on offer.

The Lega Calcio, which currently runs the Italian top flight and the second tier, had warned of dire consequences for the whole of Italian football if Conto TV's legal action was successful.

While the satellite packages for Serie A television rights were sold exclusively to Sky, the Lega Calcio divided the rights for the digital terrestrial platform into two separate packages and sold them to Mediaset Premium, which is owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Dahlia TV, for a combined total of about 580 million euros, over the next two seasons.

"We were always convinced that we operated holding into account the indications of the Melandri Law, the Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM), the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) and also of the European authority," said Maurizio Beretta, President of the Lega Calcio.

"It goes without saying that the Serie A television rights will also prove a fundamental help for the activity of Serie B (second division), Lega Pro (third and fourth divisions) and of football in general in Italy.

"This is therefore a victory for the whole of Italian football and following the recent victory of Inter in the UEFA Champions League shows the strength of its organisation."

Just like clubs across Europe, and with the lack of income from other sources, Italian sides rely heavily on the huge investment from television companies for domestic and international audiovisual rights.

Source: Reuters

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