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Mediaset close to deal with Sky Italia for Sochi rights

Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset is close to acquiring free-to-air rights to the Sochi 2014 winter Olympic Games in a sub-licensing agreement with pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

Under the proposed deal, which the paper said is “very close,” Mediaset would acquire 100 hours of coverage of the winter Games, with the coverage to be shown on its Italia 1 channel.

Sky holds all rights in Italy for both the 2014 and 2016 Games. Under the terms of its deal with the International Olympic Committee, it has to ensure free-to-air coverage of at least 200 hours of the summer Games and 100 hours of the winter Games.

Sky has already sold on free-to-air rights to the 2016 summer Games to state broadcaster Rai. It had been expected to show the winter Games in its own free-to-air channel Cielo, but has decided to sell the rights to a third party for “economic reasons,” according to the Gazzetta.

The deal is part of a wider discussion about the sharing of rights between the two broadcasters, which also covers motorcycling’s MotoGP World Championship. The rights to the series have been held by Mediaset for over a decade but from the 2014 season pass to Sky.

Under Sky’s agreement with rights-holder Dorna Sports, the broadcaster must guarantee free-to-air coverage of eight of the 18 races each season, with Mediaset now looking the most likely platform for the free-to-air coverage.