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Mediapro freezes Serie A rights process, touts Lega channel

The Mediapro agency has warned that it will be unable to provide Lega Serie A, the organising body of the top division of Italian club football, with the full financial guarantees for its rights deal with the body amid the current deadlock in the tender process, adding that this situation would change if the Lega elected to form its own channel to exploit the content.

Mediapro was due to provide the guarantees by a deadline of Thursday evening, but has released a statement to explain its stance on the matter.

Mediapro said: “The legal situation created by Sky to defend their privileged position in the Italian market prevents the Lega Serie A from guaranteeing to Mediapro the full and undisputed control of the audiovisual rights bought in the package. Mediapro will prove the financial guarantees to the Lega when it can be guaranteed these rights.”

Earlier this month, pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia succeeded in suspending the tender launched by Mediapro for rights to Serie A. Sky requested a Milan-based court to verify whether Mediapro’s tender respected Italian laws. The suspension of the tender until May 4 was the result of the request.

Mediapro this month put on the market seven packages of rights to Serie A, with bidders having until April 21 to submit offers. The non-exclusive rights were to cover three seasons, from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

The packages on offer include all 380 matches for pay-television; two packages each for digital-terrestrial television and IPTV; one covering the matches of the top eight clubs; one covering the matches of the other clubs; and two packages for online platforms – one of which includes every game, while the other includes the matches of the top eight clubs.

Last month, Italy’s antitrust authority, the AGCM, approved Mediapro’s acquisition of the rights from Lega Serie A. The Infront agency managed the rights-sales process on behalf of the Lega.

Lega Serie A in February accepted an offer for its domestic broadcast rights from Mediapro. The Lega said the Spanish agency had made an offer worth €1,050,001,000 ($1.31bn) per season, exceeding the minimum revenue target of €1.05bn that had been set.

Sky is currently Serie A’s main rights partner, paying €585m per season for rights to the matches of all 20 teams, and has continually stated its opposition to the Mediapro deal.

In its statement, Mediapro added: “In the event Lega Serie A decided to create, along with Mediapro, a channel for the distribution of the rights to the highest Italian competition, then Mediapro would present the financial guarantees immediately, because the rights would no longer be subject to any legal action.”