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Court issues injunction over Sky Italia’s non-payment of Serie A rights fee

Milan’s civil court has hit pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia with an injunction after an appeal from Lega Serie A over a missed rights fee payment by the broadcaster amid the Covid-19 shutdown.

Lega Serie A, the organising body of the Italian top division, took action over the non-payment by Sky of a €131m ($147.7m) instalment for the 2019-20 season by appealing to the Milanese court.

The injunction was filed in late May and it is open to appeal from the pay-television broadcaster and therefore is not immediately enforceable, according to ANSA, the Italian news agency.

A July 12 deadline has been issued by the league and, in the event that the payment is not made, it is threatening to prevent Sky from receiving the broadcast signal at a time that the rescheduled 2019-20 Serie A season enters its decisive phase.

Sky Italia had previously asked for a reduction in its fees for the 2019-20 season, equating to between 15 per cent and 18 per cent.

Sky and OTT platform DAZN hold the live domestic rights to Serie A in deals worth €973m per season. Sky Italia pays the bulk of that fee with its contribution standing at €780m per season which give it the rights to seven out of the 10 weekly Serie A fixtures.
DAZN pays €193.3m per season for the rights to the remaining three fixtures per week.

For its part, DAZN has also had well-publicised payment discussions with Serie A as well as the IMG agency which holds international rights to the league. Both DAZN and IMG successfully reached accords with the league. Through the deals struck, the agency and OTT platform were both required to pay their first instalments by June 27 with the second due by July 20.

IMG’s international rights deal is worth about €380m per season for broadcast rights, club archive rights, betting rights, a marketing spend and fee for access to the broadcast signal.

Speaking in May ahead of the filing of the injunction as the deadlock in talks persisted, Sky Italia chief executive Maximo Ibarra said that he hoped it would “finally be the right occasion for representatives of Serie A clubs to take the proposal for dialogue that we have offered them for weeks”.

Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo gave the notion short shrift, saying that the broadcaster could not claim that amount if the season gets finished.

De Siervo said: “We immediately made it clear that Sky’s request for a discount, in the event of the continuation of the championship, obviously could not be accepted, especially during such a tricky financial period for our teams.”

Serie A resumed on June 20 after the league’s shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.