Italy= imposes pay-TV advertising cap

December 18,= 2009

The Italian= government has approved a draft bill that would cut the amount of advertising that can be shown by pay-TV channels. There had been some uncertainty earlier in the week as to whether the legislation would be carried. It is seen by the political left as further evidence of a campaign by the Berlusconi government against the satellite pay platform Sky Italia.

Under= the decree from 2012 advertising would be restricted to 12% of the broadcast hour compared to the current limit of 18%. It is commonplace for pay-TV channels to screen advertising to supplement their subscription revenues.

The= new ruling will apply to satellite as well as terrestrial channels, bringing in terrestrial pay-TV offer Mediaset Premium, though it is yet to reach the 12%= ceiling.

Relations= remain tense between Sky Italia and both the Italian authorities and the Mediaset group of channels. The past few months have seen the withdrawal of the Mediaset channels from the Sky= platform following the launch of the Tivu Sat free-to-view offer, a dispute over the carriage of Sky advertising on the Mediaset channels and delays to the launch of the new News Corp= terrestrial channel Cielo=.