Italo digial plan under fire

EC questions competition in Italo pay TV market

MILAN — The launch of a single digital TV platform in Italy is looking unlikely, after the European Commission wrote to the Italian government and the five partners in the government promoted plan saying that it would impede competition in the country’s pay TV sector.

EC competition director general Alexander Schaub wrote in the letter that the platform — to be developed by Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, pubcaster RAI, Canal Plus and its unit Telepiu, the Cecchi Gori Group and Telecom Italia — would be a substantial impediment to effective competition in the nascent pay TV market.

A spokesman said that the Commission has so far only seen newspaper reports about Italy’s planned single digital platform. The five partners reached a preliminary agreement in November, but are still discussing some controversial points.

He noted that the Commission has previously used its antitrust powers to block pay TV consortia in Germany and in Scandinavia. “The Commission’s concerns in this type of case cover access to decoder technology, dependence on dominant operators such as telecom operators for satellite uplinks, use of electronic programming guides, and whether a participant is a major content provider excluding other providers,” he said.

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