Sky Italia did not abuse its dominant position re acquisition of media rights for UEFA or FIFA competitions
Published 04 June 2013 By: Gianluigi Marino
On 9 May 2013, AGCM, the Italian antitrust authority, rejected the claims of RTI, a company belonging to Mediaset group, which alleged that SKY Italia abused its dominant position with reference to the acquisition of media rights to the UEFA Champions League tournament (from 2012 to 2015) and to the World Cup tournament in 2010 and 2014.
According to AGCM:
With reference to the UEFA Champions League: the exclusive acquisition of media rights for all broadcasting platforms relating to seasons 2012-2015 derived from a competitive situation between the interested TV operators in the framework of a procedure that has foreseen the grant of rights on the basis of platform neutrality. This means that media rights have been licensed by the rights holder (UEFA) in packages for any broadcasting platform. During the inquiry carried out by the Italian antitrust authority, SKY Italia has sub-licensed certain media rights to the 2012/13 and 2013/14 UEFA Champions League (with the approval of UEFA) to the sole competitor in the Italian pay-tv field: RTI. Accordingly UEFA Champions League matches are currently available on DTT platform (RTI) and on satellite platform (SKY Italia), with the best matches being broadcast by RTI free to the public. AGCM considers that there is no reason to exclude the possibility that a further sublicense agreement for the 2014/15 season will be achieved between SKY Italia and RTI.
With reference to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups: it has not been proven that the exclusive rights acquired by SKY Italia hinder the competition of other operators in offering pay TV services and that there is a plan to exclude competitors from this market. Even if this content is the most attractive, the World Cup only takes place every four years and then only for a limited period of time; moreover the Audio Visual Media Services Directive and Italian law ensures that certain key matches are broadcast free to the public. Finally, the analysis of statistics relating to the number of pay TV subscribers showed that, even with SKY Italia holding the World Cup media rights, there was no resultant substantial increase in the number of subscribers.
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Gianluigi Marino is an Associate in DLA Piper's Intellectual Property and Technology team and is based in the Milan office. He has a significant experience in assisting clients (individuals and corporations) in matters related to copyright, patents, design, trademarks, counterfeiting issues, internet rights, know how, privacy, outsourcing, e-commerce, producer guarantee and consumer rights.