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Italy watchdog OKs Mediaset-Sky deal but with conditions

Italy’s antitrust regulator has given the green light to Sky’s agreement with Mediaset on the future of the Italian digital-terrestrial platform operated by Mediaset’s R2 on condition that the pay TV operator does not strike any exclusive deals for content or linear channels on streaming platforms for a period of three years.

The competition watchdog said that the combination of Sky and the digital-terrestrial platform had “irreversible” anti-competitive effects that were not mitigated by Mediaset retaining control of R2 after the AGCM declined to grant unconditional approval of the sale of the unit to Sky in April because of the absence of pay TV competitors on the terrestrial network.

The sale was agreed as part of Mediaset’s wider agreement with Sky signed in 2017 that saw Mediaset make its pay TV services available on Sky’s platform and gave Sky access to its digital-terrestrial TV platform.

Following the failure to secure approval for the deal, the pair struck an alternative agreement whereby Sky Mediaset agreed to continue to provide digital-terrestrial TV platform services to Sky on a “non-exclusive” basis.

The antitrust regulator, has now ruled that potential competition from online TV offerings can guarantee competition in pay TV despite its absence on the digital-terrestrial network.

The watchdog said that Sky’s agreement with Mediaset had strengthened the former’s dominant position in pay TV.

Mediaset announced last week that it was shutting down its Premium pay TV service on the DTT platform and making it an OTT-only service. The move was characterised as a reorientation of the pay TV business to take account of its lower subscriber base as a result of no longer having Serie A football rights.

Tags: AGCM, DTT, Italy, Mediaset, R2, Sky