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Mediapro Serie A deal hits hurdle

Mediapro’s successful bid for Italian Serie A football rights has hit a significant hurdle after a Milan court suspended the award of rights to the Spanish broadcaster and producer.

The court’s intervention followed a complaint by Sky against the Italian football league’s decision to accept Mediapro’s €1 billion-plus bid. Sky made the case that Mediapro had taken part in a bidding process reserved for ‘independent intermediaries’ while in reality it was a communications player in its own right.

Italian antitrust regulator the AGCM ruled in March that the award of rights to Mediapro for the next three seasons was valid, and Sky subsequently filed a legal suit with the Milan tribunal, which has now suspended the award until May 4 when it will make a definitive ruling.

The ruling has forced Mediapro to postpone the deadline for offers from Italian service providers to license the rights, which had originally been set for April 21.

Sky has reiterated its desire to continue to “contribute to the growth of Italian football” by providing a quality offering to subscribers.

Separately, Sky is launching three showcase channels on the Mediaset Premium platform, marking the first phase of the new partnership between the pair. Two standard-definition channels dedicated respectively to entertainment and sport and one HD channel dedicated to sport will air on Mediaset Premium from tomorrow until June 3.

The move follows the wide-ranging deal struck earlier this month, whereby Sky will make nine movie and TV series channels from Mediaset Premium’s offering available to satellite subscribers and will also create a new digital-terrestrial pay TV offering to be distributed on the Italian DTT platform using Mediaset’s transmission capacity.