Sky Italia claims bias in favor of RAI, Mediaset

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia paybox has prompted Italy’s antitrust authority to open a probe into the country’s TV ratings monitor, Auditel, by complaining that Auditel’s audience share figures are rigged to favor Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset and pubcaster RAI.

The probe will investigate Sky Italia’s long-simmering claims that Auditel is using “delaying tactics and an obstructive attitude toward Sky’s proposals to improve the representativity of its data,” the antitrust org said in a statement.

Mediaset and RAI execs dominate the board at Auditel, which was set up in 1986 by Italy’s terrestrial broadcasters in association with the country’s advertisers’ association, UPA. Sky Italia topper Tom Mockridge has long been calling for Auditel’s power structure to be reconfigured to become more independent and reflect Italy’s rapidly evolving TV landscape.

According to the antitrust org’s statement, Sky has been demanding that Italian TV ratings become aggregated more clearly, according to each different TV platform ­ — analog, digital, satellite and IPTV.

Sky’s proposals were allegedly “not even taken into consideration by the Auditel board in which Sky does not have a seat,” said the antitrust authority.

There was no immediate comment from Auditel.

The ratings squabble is the latest of several frictions between Murdoch and Mediaset and RAI. Last month, Sky Italia sued Mediaset claiming its refusal to run Sky spots on its channels repped unfair competition.

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