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Mediaset seeks World Cup arbitration as Sky fights for DTT review

Italy’s Mediaset has asked the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris to arbitrate in its struggle to force pay-TV rival Sky Italia to wholesale its exclusive rights to coverage of the World Cup in South Africa to Mediaset.

Sky Italia bought pay-TV rights to the tournament from public broadcaster Rai, which has retained the right to broadcast a number of matches free-to-air. Sky has refused until now to make its rights available to Mediaset, which wants to market the games on its digital-terrestrial pay-TV platform.

Mediaset’s move is the latest in a long-running battle between the pair. Separately, Italian authorities are set to meet offices from the European Competition Commission to discuss Sky Italia’s case to review its ban from launching pay-TV services on digital terrestrial television until the end of 2011. Deputy Minister of Communications Paolo Romani is set to meet commissioner Joaquin Almunia to review the restrictions, which were agreed in 2003 when the News Corp-owned satellite pay-TV broadcaster was the only pay-TV player in the country.

Sky Italia argues that there is increased competition in the pay-TV sector from rival Mediaset to allow it to participate in the upcoming sale of five digital terrestrial television frequences.

The European Union is set to make a decision at the end of April.