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Court says Rai must offer all programming unencrypted on Sky Italia

An Italian court has ruled that Italian broadcaster Rai must allow Sky Italia to broadcast its channels free-to-air.

The two parties have been in a long-running dispute because Rai encrypts some its content on the Sky platform, including football matches and entertainment shows. Sky customers that want to watch encrypted programmes have to use a decoder, such as that supplied by the TivùSat service that Rai operates along with Mediaset and Telecom Italia.

The court said Rai was breaching its duty as a public sector broadcaster because it didn’t offer universal access to its free-to-air programming. It said Rai’s operations favoured TivùSat and that regulator AGCOM allowing Rai to block some of its content amounted to an illegitimate use of state aid.

Sky Italia released a statement saying, “The ruling of the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio is a victory for all Sky subscribers and represents an important reminder that Rai must comply with its public service obligations towards all Italian citizens. With this ruling, the Regional Administrative Court reaffirmed a principle of justice and a principle of non-discrimination towards Sky subscribers who, over the last years, have unfortunately seen some programs being blacked out on their Sky decoders – as recently happened again on the occasion of the European Football Championship – even though they pay Rai’s licence fee.”