Mediaset, Sky Italia negotiate pay-TV deal even as football rights deal probed

NEW DELHI: Even as offices of Mediaset and Sky Italia were raided by police for possible rights cartel regarding the sale of Serie A football rights, the two broadcasters are negotiating a pay-TV alliance that could create a monopoly in the sector.

According to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, the talks are underway and the first draft of a deal foresees a JV company, majority-owned by Sky Italia and with Mediaset below 50 per cent. The pay-TV activities of the two groups, which together have 7.2 million subscribers, would be transferred to the joint venture.

Italy’s Antitrust Authority, which had initiated the raids, will have to rule on the alliance, but informal contacts have already started to evaluate the possible effects and conditions that could be imposed for approving the deal.

In a statement, the Authority said it never authorised any agreement distorting competition on TV rights for the 2015-2018 seasons.

The Authority was probing last year’s €1 billion sale of Serie A football rights.

The investigation was launched in parallel with the arrest of 50 people, including footballers and club presidents, on charges of rigging 28 matches.

Italy’s antitrust authority said it had opened an investigation into Mediaset and Sky Italia, to establish whether the parties violated competition laws through “sharing agreements” and excluded new entrants.

The Authority said it was also investigating the Italian football league and Infront, a Swiss-based agency that managed the process. Infront is run by Philippe Blatter, the nephew of FIFA head Sepp Blatter.

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