Italy raps News Corp over channel delay claim
December 2nd, 2009 - 11:02 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

Italy’s communications ministry has rejected News Corp’s claim that it was responsible for delaying the launch of the group’s free TV channel. The ministry said comments from the company seemed to constitute an insult to the government.

News Corp had planned to launch its digital terrestrial channel Cielo on Sky Italia on Tuesday. That move, announced last month, heats up competition with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset SpA and state broadcaster RAI. However, Cielo said on Monday the channel would not begin as scheduled because authorisation from the ministry had not arrived.

The ministry said a statement broadcast on Sky Italia - News Corp’s local satellite broadcasting unit - contained “a series of formal and substantial errors” about an administrative issue that the ministry had overseen correctly. Terrestrial broadcasting for the group’s Cielo channel had to wait for a ministry go-ahead and a 60-day approval period had yet to expire, Deputy Minister Paolo Romani said in a statement. “The position announced via television seems furthermore to have content denigrating the entire Italian administration …,” the statement said.