Mediaset probed over PPV soccer

World Brief

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.

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