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Mediaset ‘raises antitrust concerns’ over free-to-air Serie A

Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset has approached Italy’s antitrust authorities over the plans to showcase Italy’s Serie A on free-to-air television, it has been reported.

The broadcaster has raised the issue with the regulator to “report the possibility of discriminatory conduct and distorting of competition”, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

The broadcaster is also thought to have outlined its opposition in a letter yesterday (Thursday) to Lega Serie A and Italy’s Sports Minister, Vincenzo Spadafora.

Mediaset’s stance has been to ask that either all broadcasters are able to broadcast Serie A matches on a free-to-air basis or that no advertisements can be carried if just one broadcaster is chosen.

Pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia is this week said to have been edging closer to striking a deal with Spadafora and the league for free-to-air coverage of the Italian top flight upon its resumption on June 20 behind closed doors.

Spadafora has proposed a similar system to that introduced by German pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland for the Bundesliga. He has suggested a Diretta Gol show – the broadcasting of near-live goals and action from various simultaneous matches in a single broadcast – on a free-to-air basis.

Sky Deutschland has made its ‘Konferenz’ coverage of Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga matches available following the resumption of football in Germany. Sky’s Konferenz has been available on the free-to-view Sky Sport News channel and free via a live stream on the Sky Sport website.

The broadcasting of certain matches on TV8, Sky Italia’s free-to-air digital terrestrial channel, has also been under consideration.

After lockdown measures commenced in earnest in March, the Lega and Sky Italia hit out at comments by Spadafora criticising the lack of free-to-air access to behind closed doors matches amid the crisis.

Sky Italia stressed at the time that it had made the Juventus-Inter match available on its TV8 and fellow free-to-air channel Cielo. Sky Italia holds the rights to Serie A jointly with subscription OTT platform DAZN.

The pair are in the penultimate season of their agreement with Lega Serie A. Sky holds the rights to seven of the 10 weekly fixtures, a total of 266 matches broadcast on its platforms per season. DAZN holds the rights to the remaining three matches giving it a total of 114 per season.

The deals with Sky and DAZN are worth €973m ($1.03bn) per season. Both deals are exclusive and platform neutral and run from 2018-19 to 2020-21.