Rai risks E90m fine for channel encryption

Italian public broadcaster RAI risks being fined up to E90 million, or about 3 per cent of its annual turnover, for irregularities in procedures following the exit from DTH platform Sky Italia.

Under examination is the continued encryption of its programmes on satellite which is prohibited by the rules of public service. At the moment, there is an ongoing investigation initiated by the countryís Communications Authority (AgCom), but a report in "L'Espresso", reveal a major cause of concern for the broadcaster regarding the outcome of the investigation.

According to RAIís lawyers, "AgCom has identified in the start of transmissions of TivýSat some elements of non-compliance with the obligations of public service, as it had not informed RAI subscribers of the inability to receive, from 1 August 2009, integrally all of the three general entertainment public TV channels on the Sky Italia platform." Also, "RAI has been overzealous with the encryption in the last period" and "the procedures put in place to guarantee universal service have not been respectful of the service contract."

Finally, the legal note points out that AgCom has warned that in case of grave breaches of the obligation of the public service "it may have to apply a heavy financial penalty of up to 3 per cent of turnover in the last financial year", which amounts to around E90 million.