Rai launches fresh appeal over Champions League rights deal – report

Italian state broadcaster Rai has reportedly launched a fresh appeal against pay-television broadcaster Sky’s sublicensing agreement with commercial and pay-television group Mediaset for rights to the Uefa Champions League club football competition.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica said Rai has sought to strengthen its claims by hiring the law firm of Andrea Zoppini, a prominent Italian lawyer, to enhance its legal team.

In the new appeal, Rai’s group of lawyers are said to have pointed to the contract between Sky and Mediaset as evidence of irreparable damage against it.

Sky and Mediaset recently agreed a deal for the next two Champions League seasons, 2019-20 and 2020-21. Mediaset has secured the free-to-air rights to one Champions League match per week. It will show a match involving an Italian team each match day on its flagship Canale 5 channel. Mediaset can also show both semi-finals, the final and the European Super Cup.

Rai sublicensed a similar package of free-to-air rights from Sky for the 2018-19 season. Its deal gave it an option to renew for a further two seasons. However, Sky has claimed the option could only be exercised if its position in the football rights market had not changed significantly in the period between the deal being signed in January 2018 and the option being due. Since agreeing the deal, Sky lost the rights to three Serie A matches per week to OTT service DAZN.

On June 27, a civil tribunal in Milan rejected Rai’s request for an urgent court hearing on the option. It said that Rai had not sufficiently justified the need for an accelerated legal process. It did not rule on the merits of Rai’s case.