Sky/Mediaset fight to go to court
Rose Major

The simmering battle between News Corp and Italy’s Mediaset is reaching boiling point, with News announcing September 16 that its wholly-owned subsidiary Sky Italia was taking Mediaset’s RTI and Publitalia to court, alleging unfair competition. Mediaset called the accusations “groundless”.

RTI owns and operates Mediaset’s Italian networks Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4. Publitalia is own of Mediaset’s advertising groups.

A statement from News Corp said: “News Corporation believes these companies have violated EC rules governing free competition, as well as Italian media regulation, by refusing to allow Sky Italia to purchase advertising on leading Italian commercial networks Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4.”

In response, Mediaset said it was “astonished” that a monopoly operator should start legal action against another television company accusing it of anti-competition violations. Sky Italia is Italy’s only satellite pay-TV operator in Italy, although has competition in the general pay-TV sphere, with Mediaset offering pay-DTT services through Mediaset Premium, and a handful of IPTV operators. Mediaset and RAI also launched a free-to-air satellite offering TivuSat at the end of July.

Mediaset’s statement claimed that so far in 2009, Mediaset had accommodated 3,107 spot ads from sky on its networks, while Sky had always refused to transmit any ads for Mediaset on its own channels.

The case will be heard in the Court of Milan.