Sky Italia hikes subscription fee

Basic subscription to rise by 22%

MILAN — Sky Italia, Rupert Murdoch’s Italian satcaster, is hiking the price of its basic subscription by 22%, it emerged Monday.

Customers learnt in their latest statements that the cost of the basic package will rise from $23 to $28 a month. The increase will kick in at the start of August.

Milan-based Sky Italia will raise the fee on its second-lowest offering by 8.7% to $35. The price of the top, all-inclusive package remains virtually unchanged at $97 a month.

A spokesman for the company told Variety that the rises “reflect the increased content provided in basic packages, with new channels added.”

However, analysts note the price rises follow falling operating profits at Sky Italia. In the first three months of the year, Sky Italia posted a 35% drop in operating profit to $63 million, according to a May 6 statement by parent company News Corp.

Sky Italia’s 4.8 million subscribers have already suffered one price rise this year after the government of Silvio Berlusconi chose to withdrawn a key tax perk enjoyed by satellite broadcasters. As a result value-added tax charges on Sky subscriptions doubled to 20%.

The decision sparked a war of words between the moguls. Berlusconi controls Sky’s arch rival Mediaset, Italy’s biggest private broadcaster.