The Italian State Council has ruled that News Corp’s Sky Italia can take part in the tender for DTT frequencies in Italy. The government had tried to stop the broadcaster from obtaining terrestrial frequencies.
In July 2010 the European Commission accepted plans for Sky Italia to bid for digital terrestrial capacity, but on the pre-condition that it is restricted to free-to-air broadcasts until 2015. Following this verdict, the Italian Communications Authority (AgCom) agreed to Sky’s participation, but the Berlusconi-led government tried to stop it.
Sky would compete head on with Berlusconi’s Mediaset, who owns the three major private networks in the country, Canale 5, Italia Uno and Rete 4. With the ruling of the State Council, the tender of the terrestrial capacity can now go ahead after earlier delays.
In a statement, Sky Italia it greeted the decision with great satisfaction. “Sky Italia will continue to invest in Italy and to give its contribution for the growth of the Italian TV sector,” said Tom Mockridge, CEO, Sky Italia. “According to a recent study, Sky’s investments in Italy have generated over 22,500 jobs through direct and indirect employment, and have driven the growth of the TV sector as a whole. So it is surprising that those who should aim to foster such a growth, that is to say the Ministry for Economic Development, instead of encouraging investments like those made by Sky Italia, seem intent on setting barriers for those who have chosen to risk their capital in Italian companies. Barriers that, besides being difficult to justify in this challenging economic phase, are incompatible with principles of competition and European Union regulations.”
The Italian TV market is one of the most competitive in Europe, with premium TV provider Dahlia TV ceasing operations after talks failed to prolong the life of the Italian DTT operation.
There are a total of 21 multiplexes available in the country, of which 16 have already been awarded. At the moment, public broadcaster RAI and private broadcasters Mediaset and Telecom Italia have a total of 11 muxes. The remaining five are held by regional and local broadcasters.