Mediaset battle with Vivendi intensifies

MediasetMediaset will continue to battle Vivendi in the courts and will do everything possible to return its Premium pay TV service to profitability, according to Fedele Confalonieri, the company’s chairman.

Confalonieri told the Italian media group’s annual shareholders meeting that Mediaset had opened up a new front its legal war with the French group, accusing Vivendi of breach of contract, unfair competition and violation of the country’s law on media pluralism.

As reported by Italian press, Confalonieri told shareholders that it had become clear that Vivendi had attempted to use the impact of the collapse of the deal that would have seen it take over Premium to acquire shares in the parent company.

Confalonieri said that Mediaset would do everything possible to return Mediaset Premium to the black, and confirmed that the company was interested in participating in the forthcoming auction for Serie A football rights.

Despite the conflict with Vivendi, Cofalonieri indicated that Mediaset remains open to a possible deal with Vivendi-backed Telecom Italia (TIM) over rights, as well as a possible deal with Sky.

Vivendi stayed away from the shareholders meeting despite owning a significant stake in the company, acquired in a series of moves at the end of last year.

The French group has filed a plan with regulator AGCOM detailing how it will comply with the latter’s ruling that it could not simultaneously hold sizeable stakes in Mediaset and Telecom Italia because this is in breach of Italy’s Testo Unico dei Servizi di Media Audiovisivi e Radiofonici (TUSMAR) regulation. This determines that electronics communications companies with a market share in excess of 40% cannot control more than 10% of a Sistema Integrato delle Comunicazioni (SIC) – meaning a large TV, radio and publishing outfit, such as Mediaset.

Vivendi is simultaneously challenging the AGCOM ruling, having filed an appeal with the Tribunale Administrivo Regionale (TAR).

Mediaset shareholders approved the company’s share buyback programme, authorising Mediaset to acquire up to 10% of its own shares.