Italian broadcasters Sky Italia and Mediaset have teamed up to stop Swiss-Italian terrestrial TV broadcaster RTSI from airing live coverage of the Italian Serie A.
RTSI acquired the exclusive Swiss rights for the 2008/09 football season from international TV rights broker Media Partners via Lugano-based company Heikon. However, pressure from Sky Italia (which owns the Italian satellite TV rights) and Mediaset (which airs the Serie A on its subscription-based DTT service) forced TSI2, the second channel of the Swiss broadcaster, to stop live Serie A coverage. The reason for the move is that the free-to-air signal of TSI2 reaches parts of Italy’s Northern region of Lombardy.
RTSI is now faced with an arkward situation, having acquired the TV rights but not being able to exploit them. According to the head of the sports department at RTSI, Andreas Wyden, TSI2 broadcasts on the terrestrial frequencies on which it is authorised to do so, while the TV rights contract is both valid and based on international conventions. He also pointed out that it is impossible to prevent the spillover of a terrestrial TV signal beyond national borders.
According to some estimates, Sky Italia has at least 4,000 subscribers in Switzerland, which are considered as illegal, as the pay-TV operator does not have the rights to broadcast outside of Italy. However, subscriptions to the football package bring in over €1.9 million alone. Precise figures of those receiving Mediaset’s PPV service across the border are not known.