On May 13, 2015 the Italian Competition Authority (“AGCM”) issued a Resolution (see here) opening an official investigation (“Investigation”) on the sale of Serie A TV rights for the 3-year period 2015-2018 (for more details please see here our previous post on the matter).
The Investigation is carried out against the National Serie A League (“Lega”), the entity which sells on behalf of football teams their TV and media rights; Infront Italy S.r.l. (“Infront”), the advisor of the Lega for the sale of TV and media rights; Sky Italia S.r.l. (“Sky”); and RTI S.p.A. (“RTI”), the company of the Mediaset Group providing, inter alia, pay-TV audiovisual media services.
The AGCM deemed that the sale of Serie A TV rights might have been followed by a market-sharing agreement entered into between Sky and RTI with the endorsement of both the Lega and Infront. Therefore, such agreement would be in breach of Article 101, paragraph 1, of the Treaty on the Functioning of European Union, as would have as its object or effect the restriction of competition within the EU internal market.
The content of the Resolution can be summarized as follows:
- the tender procedures launched in 2014 by the Lega awarded to Sky the so called Packages A and B, including, respectively, the satellite and digital terrestrial TV rights concerning the 8 most important Serie A football teams;
- the so called Package D, including the TV rights for all platforms of the remaining football teams was awarded to RTI; however, its offer was conditioned upon the adjudication of one of the Packages A and B;
- based on point 2. above, a new tender procedure at fair, reasonable and not-discriminatory conditions for the adjudication of the Package D should have been launched by the Lega, also for the benefit of other competitors (e.g., Eurosport). However, this second procedure was not carried out by the Lega, which finally awarded the Package A to Sky, the Package B to RTI and the Package D to the same RTI, which sub-licensed such rights to Sky;
- in the AGCM opinion, the final outcome of the process was the result of a market-sharing agreement entered into between Sky and RTI, supported by the Lega and Infront.
The proceeding opened by the Investigation shall be concluded within April 30, 2016. Third parties can intervene in the same proceeding.