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Sky hails court’s cancellation of Serie A tender process

Pay-television broadcaster Sky Italia has said it is ready to make an “important offer” to resolve the dispute surrounding Mediapro’s rights for Serie A after a judge today (Wednesday) ruled that the agency’s tender for the top division of Italian football must be scrapped.

Sitting in the Court of Milan, Judge Claudio Marangoni ruled that Mediapro and Lega Serie A must re-evaluate a tender launched last month, following a challenge lodged by Sky.

Sky initially secured the suspension of the tender process following a ruling on April 16. Marangoni has now stated that the tender must be cancelled as it was not properly formulated and breached antitrust rules.

According to the judge, by offering packages with “information and advertising content”, Mediapro assumes “a form of editorial responsibility” that “seems to place it outside the sphere of activity of the independent intermediary”. 

Mediapro now has 15 days in which it can lodge an appeal against the ruling. Responding to its victory, Sky said in a statement: “The decision of the Court of Milan confirmed that it was necessary to verify the adherence of the notice of Mediapro to the Italian laws, making clarity for the benefit of all participants and creating the conditions for the definition of the procedure assignment of the 2018-21 rights to Serie A.

“Sky reiterates that it is ready as always to do its part with an important offer that can give certainty to all fans and at the same time guarantee the future of the clubs and the whole football system.”

Mediapro last 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 included 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 included every game, while the other included the matches of the top eight clubs.

In March, 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, the organising body of the top division of Italian club football, 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.