As previously mentioned in our articles, on 13th May 2015, the Italian Competition Authority (the "ICA"), opened an in-depth investigation into the market for media rights to the Italian Premier League “Serie A”, for infringements of Article 101 TFEU, the prohibition of anti-competitive agreements.
The Italian entities involved into the investigation are: The association “Lega Nazionale Professionisti di Serie A” ("Lega") and the companies Infront Italy S.r.l. ("Infront"), Sky Italia S.r.l. ("Sky") and Reti Televisive Italiane S.p.A. ("RTI") along with its controlled company Mediaset Premium S.p.A. (the "Companies").
The background of the case is as follows:
The Lega — which is the association representing the football clubs participating to the “Serie A” — is entrusted by the Italian law with the task of the joint selling of the commercial rights of the “Serie A”.
The joint selling is advised by Infront and must be made through public tenders where different packages of rights are sold. In such a case the Lega and Infront set up three packages of rights ("A", "B", "D",). According to the outcome of the tender, Sky made the best offers for packages "A" and "B" while for package "D" there were no valid offers.
In this case, given the not valid offer for package D, the Lega had to start another tender, invalidating the awarding of packages "A" and "B".
In light of that, the media rights to the “Serie A” were awarded through an agreement among the abovementioned entities (included the Lega and Infront), according to which Sky would obtain the packages "A" and "D" while RTI the package "B" (the "Agreement").
On 20th April 2016, The ICA concluded its investigation and found the eventual Agreement and the disbanding of the tender process to be anti-competitive since it was a simple "snapshot" of the situation existing before the tender, impeding other competitors from entering the market of “Serie A” media rights and the other connected markets (pay-tv and commercials).
Therefore, the ICA held that the conduct raised serious issues regarding its compatibility with Article 101 TFEU and fined the Companies cumulatively €66 million.