Italian court overturns Sky’s three-year exclusive digital rights ban

(BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Sky Italia has won its appeal against the country’s antitrust authority’s decision to bar the pay-television broadcaster for three years from acquiring exclusive content rights over internet platforms.

The regional administrative court (TAR) of Lazio reversed the AGCM ruling, which was made last May, following an appeal hearing on February 12.

The original ruling was a condition of AGCM’s approval of Sky Italia’s agreement with commercial broadcaster Mediaset on the future of the latter’s DTT platform, R2.

At the time, the AGCM said the combination of Sky and the DTT platform had created “obvious” and “irreversible” anti-competitive effects, despite Mediaset retaining control of R2 after the regulator had declined to grant unconditional approval of the sale of the unit to Sky.

TAR’s decision to overturn the antitrust ruling removes a key obstacle preventing Sky from bidding across all platforms for rights to Italy’s Serie A in the forthcoming domestic tender for the 2021-24 cycle, which is expected to be launched next month.

Sky holds the domestic Serie A rights jointly with OTT platform DAZN in the current 2018-21 cycle for a total of €973m ($1.09bn) per season.

Serie A clubs are also yet to decide whether to accept the Mediapro agency’s €1.283bn-per-season joint-venture proposal to create a channel with the league as a fallback option, should the tender not produce acceptable bids.