Few days ago the Italian Competition Authority (Autorità Garante per la Concorrenza e il Mercato, Agcm) filed its decision (see here – text available only in Italian) on the case that involved the main Pay-TV operators in the Italian market, Sky and RTI/Mediaset Premium, as well as the Italian Football League (Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A) and its advisor Infront, for an alleged alteration of the outcome of the tender which took place in June 2014 concerning the allocation of the Serie A television rights for 2015-2018.
According to the Agcm, the allocation of the television rights resulted in an agreement restricting competition under Article 101 of the EU Treaty, which bans any “agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market“.
As alleged by Agcm, said agreement resulted in a market sharing between RTI/Mediaset Premium and Sky, thus hindering the entry of new operators in the market also for the long-term. As a result, severe sanctions were applied: Agcm imposed fines for a total amount of EUR 66 million, most of which were imposed on RTI/Mediaset Premium for its being the first promoter of the negotiation (EUR 51.4 million).
According to most commentators, this will not be the final word on a highly disputed topic, while it may well be an opportunity to re-write the rules for the sports rights allocations, also taking into account the broader EU digital single market reform.