The European Commission has given mixed signals on the subsidies paid by the Italian government to purchasers of digital TV decoders.
In its report the Commission says that payments made in 2004 and 2005 were illegal because they benefited only those who purchased a digital terrestrial receiver. Subsequent payments have been granted state aid status, because satellite decoders were also included, bringing the subsidy in line with the European Commission policy of the advancement of digital television.
The European Commission launched the investigation in December 2005 following a complaint from the News Corp-owned Sky Italia.
Broadcasters, including the public broadcaster RAI and the commercial network Mediaset will now have to refund the payments they received. It is estimated that some €200 million in subsidies was paid between 2004 and 2005. (JC)