Rai chief plays down Sky USB module, highlights legal issues

Italian public broadcaster Rai’s director-general Mauro Masi has described pay-TV operator Sky Italia’s announcement yesterday that it would provide a USB module that will enable its HD subscribers to receive digital-terrestrial channels as a clever marketing initiative but said its impact would be limited.

Rai withdrew its digital-only channels from Sky Italia’s platform earlier this year to focus on digital-terrestrial and free-to-air digital satellite platforms. Sky’s USB module will enable HD subscribers to receive the channels. However Masi reportedly claimed that the move would enable fewer than 10% of Sky’s subscribers to pick up the channels and said that there may be legal issues concerning the placing of Rai’s channels in the Sky EPG. However, newspaper La Repubblica has reported that Sky’s HD base is now over one million, or about 25% of its overall base, making the DTT channels potentially available to a wider number of people.