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Mediaset, Sky share soccer rights

RAI withdrew from bidding due to lack of cash

Paybox Sky Italia and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset broadcast group have carved up the all-important TV rights for the Serie A soccer league until 2012.

The deal means a E900 million ($1.27 billion) bonanza for the 20 clubs in the league — and the promise of high ratings for satcaster Sky Italia and Mediaset’s digital terrestrial paybox in the soccer-mad country.

Sky Italia will air all the matches, while Mediaset viewers will see matches involving the top 12 teams.

RAI withdrew from bidding after president Paolo Garimberti declared that the pubcaster didn’t have the money “for a competition that has exceeded its market value.”

The Italian antitrust authority is probing the rights sale, suspicious that it was set up to benefit pay TV operators and not viewers.

The Serie A league includes global soccer names Juventus and AC Milan, owned by Berlusconi.

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