Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia paybox has won a landmark ruling by Italy’s anti-trust authority, which has fined ratings compiler Auditel a whopping $2.3 million for practices favoring rivals Mediaset and RAI.
Italy’s competition watchdog, installed after the recent fall of former prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, who controls Mediaset, has claimed Sky Italia the victor in a protracted dispute with Auditel, pointing out several anti-competitive practices.
These include refusing to release daily ratings for single channels, aggregated according to each platform (such as digital, satellite and Web). It also refuses to provide data for smaller digital channels, such as News Corp.’s Cielo.
These practices have “strongly limited growth potential for broadcasters looking to erode ratings of generalist channels by diversifying their programming, based on audience behavior,” Sky Italia said in a statement. Furthermore Auditel, Italy’s only ratings compiler “guaranteed an advantage to its main shareholders (RAI and Mediaset).”
Earlier this week, Sky called for an overhaul of the ratings system, pointing to Auditel’s monopoly position and the key data it provides, making it all the more necessary for it to operate “in line with international best practice, with absolute transparency and non-discrimination.”
Auditel defended its practices and announced it will appeal.