Italy’s antitrust watchdog is probing the purchase of digital soccer broadcasting rights by Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, Italy’s dominant TV group.
It fears Mediaset “has restricted competition” by acquiring pay-per-view rights to Serie A and Serie B teams for its digital terrestrial television transmissions.
Pay-per-view soccer formerly aired exclusively on Rupert Murdoch’s satcaster Sky Italia.
Sky Italia asked for the probe — it also complained that Mediaset and other DTT operators get an unfair advantage over satellite because DTT decoders are government subsidized.
Earlier this week, Mediaset posted a record $649 million net profit for 2004 and said it expected a “very good” 2005, partly based on the success of its pay-per-view soccer, which will reach breakeven this year.