Italian regulator investigates RAI-Sky withdrawal

By Julian Clover

TiVu_logoAgcom is to investigate whether the possibility of RAI pulling its channels from Sky Italia in favour of Tivý Sat would be in breach of the public broadcaster’s platform neutrality. The move would see the departure of its three flagship channels, Rai Uno, Rai Due and Rai Tre as well as its digital portfolio.

The authority’s president Corrado CalabrÚ told a meeting of the RAI supervisory board that the decision risked losing sight of the basic principals of quality and fair competition.

Tivý Sat, backed by RAI, Mediaset and Telecom Italia, is scheduled to launch on July 31, using the same Hot Bird position that is already home to Sky Italia, but using the rival Nagravision encryption system that will render reception of the RAI channels impossible to Sky households.

According to Il Sole 24 Ore, CalabrÚ’s intervention comes at a crucial time for talks between RAI and Sky Italia, the public broadcaster seeking additional carriage fees that Sky would seem unlikely to meet.

A public broadcaster seeking commercial advantage, and forgetting its obligations, is nothing new. However, RAI’s move comes with the added twist of its partner Mediaset being controlled by the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.