SKY Defeats RAI in Champions League Broadcasting Appeal
August 21, 2019
Cleary Gottlieb represented SKY Italia (SKY) in successfully defeating an appeal by RAI regarding free-to-air broadcasting rights for the UEFA Champions League (Champions League).
The Court of Milan definitively rejected RAI’s requests for interim measures against SKY, confirming that the next two seasons of the Champions League will be broadcast on Mediaset networks.
RAI wrongly alleged that it could exercise an option right provided for in the contract that concluded in 2018 and had requested the court to decide that it could broadcast free-to-air coverage of the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 Champions League seasons, order SKY to sublicense the rights to RAI, and prevent RTI from using them.
In the first interim measures phase, in an order dated June 26, 2019, the court dismissed RAI’s requests, as the conditions for issuing an interim measure were not met. The court noted that, “since September 2018,” SKY had already “formally declared that it did not consider the condition” to which RAI’s option right had been fulfilled.
In its order issued on August 16, 2019, the court declared the claim against RTI (which had not been called to appear in the first interim measures phase) inadmissible and again found that the conditions justifying an interim measure were not met.
Confirming the June 2019 order, the court held that RAI had no “significant interest in obtaining a review of the original interim measures decision in this case,” also considering that RTI had already lawfully sublicensed the rights to the Champions League from SKY.
In addition, the court noted that, “in the light of the objections that SKY had already raised in the first interim measures phase,” it was “seriously questionable” whether “RAI had effectively exercised the option right granted to it in the contract for the 2018/19 season.”
SKY also obtained an order that RAI pay the costs of the proceedings.
The decision is very important as a matter of law because it was taken by a panel of three authoritative judges of the Court of Milan and confirms that RAI could have avoided any alleged hypothetical risk, of which there was no evidence, without resorting to interim measures.