Sky Italia Obtains Victory on Alleged Abuse of Dominant Position in TV Sector

April 23, 2013

Cleary Gottlieb successfully defended Sky Italia, the Italian subsidiary of the Newscorp group, in the investigation opened by the Italian Competition Authority with respect to the acquisition of broadcasting rights over FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League.

According to the decision opening the investigation, the acquisition by Sky of exclusive broadcasting rights over the 2010 and 2014 seasons of the FIFA World Cup amounted to an abuse of its dominant position in the pay-tv market. The ICA subsequently extended the scope of the investigation to the acquisition of broadcasting rights over the 2012/2013, 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 seasons of the UEFA Champions League.

On April 23, 2013, the ICA closed the investigation against Sky, acknowledging the absence of any abusive conduct. In line with an ICC award dismissing RTI’s claims against Sky, the ICA deemed that the FIFA World Cup broadcasting rights were not considered essential to compete in the pay-TV sector. Second, the ICA agreed that the UEFA Champions League broadcasting rights were acquired following an open competitive tender procedure, based on a platform-neutral approach. Moreover, during the investigation, Sky and RTI cross-licensed their broadcasting rights on various events, including over two seasons of the UEFA Europa League and Champions League (2012/2013 and 2013/2014), allowing for such events to be aired over all broadcasting platforms (satellite and DTT) and on free-to-air television.