Serie A media-rights tender guidelines given communications watchdog approval

Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus celebrates with team mates (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

Italy’s communications authority (AGCOM) has approved the guidelines for the forthcoming sale of broadcast rights by Italian football’s Lega Serie A.

AGCOM has said that the criteria set out by the league for the sale of rights from 2021-22 to 2023-24 do not affect competition, albeit the individual packages must be assessed further when the invitation to tender is launched.

In its recommendations, AGCOM has called for the rights packages to “stimulate competition in the pay-television market, allowing more operators the opportunity to broadcast a significant part of Serie A”. The watchdog also recommended the “development of competing and non-complementary offers to end consumers”.

AGCOM also underlined the need to launch the rights auction as soon as possible.

The forthcoming launch of the sales process comes with media and production group Mediapro having bid to create a channel in joint venture project with the league.

Mediapro’s offer of €1.283bn ($1.42bn) per season has been on the table since November 4. The clubs failed to reach an agreement on the offer at four league assemblies and negotiations then stalled as the two parties waited for a new president to be elected.

Mediapro and the league have threatened legal action against each other for damages in the interim period but negotiations between the two are expected to continue.

On the prospect of a league channel project, AGCOM did not deliver an option, describing it as “outside of the evaluation of the guidelines that relate exclusively to the commercialisation of the rights”.

Italy’s antitrust authority (AGCM) has yet to issue its judgment on the tender guidelines.

With regards to the prevention of the sale of exclusive internet rights, AGCOM said that the competition objectives can be satisfied “providing that the provider and assignee of a package can opt out of the exclusivity for the internet platform only”.

The domestic live rights to Serie A games are currently held by pay-television platform Sky Italia and subscription OTT service DAZN in deals worth €973m per season.

Newly-elected Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino recently said that the process for the sale of the domestic rights for the next three-year cycle, from 2021-22 to 2023-24, would be “rapid”, and should be wrapped up within six months.