News Corp takes on Mediaset over alleged ad ban

News Corp-owned Sky Italia is to take legal action against Italian broadcaster Mediaset’s TV arm RTI and advertising subsidiary Publitalia, accusing them of refusing to allow Sky Italia advertising to air on Mediaset’s channels.

News Corp has accused the pair of refusing to allow Sky Italia to buy ads on commercial networks Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4, arguing that they are guilty of breaking Italian and European competition law.

Mediaset responded by saying it found Sky Italia’s announcement “disturbing” and pointed out that the latter was the dominant player in the pay-TV market. “What is most surprising is that an operator, that in the satellite pay-TV market is an absolute monopolist, should take legal action against another television company with an accusation of a violation of antitrust rules,” the broadcaster said in a statement. Mediaset further alleged that Sky Italia had refused to broadcast commercials for Mediaset on its channels, while Mediaset had aired over 3,000 commercials for the pay-TV broadcaster on its channels between January and December.

The latest moves mark an escalation of the increasingly bitter battle between News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch and Italian prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi. The struggle between the pair has recently seen Mediaset and Italian public broadcaster Rai join together to create an alternative free-to-air satellite platform TivùSat, with the controversial withdrawal of Rai’s thematic channels from the Sky Italia platform.