Sky Italia claims Olympics rights

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ROME -- The International Olympic Committee and Sky Italia said Monday that Sky will be the exclusive broadcaster for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

This marks the first time that neither state broadcaster RAI nor Silvio Berlusconi's private Mediaset networks will host at least part of the Olympics, which in broadcast terms are the third-most-important international sporting event in Italy, following the soccer World Cup and soccer's European Championship.

The deal gives the News Corp. subsidiary exclusive rights across all platforms: free-to-air television, pay TV, Internet coverage and mobile phone coverage. Terms of the deal were not released.

But RAI and Mediaset may not be completely out of the running -- because Sky Italia owns no free-to-air broadcast networks in Italy, it will look to sell Olympics-related content to a traditional broadcaster in Italy, which would mean RAI, Mediaset, or possibly La 7, the network owned by Telecom Italia Media.

The deal is not the first major sporting coup for Sky Italia, which was the principle broadcaster of the 2006 World Cup in Italy.

Sky Italia CEO Tom Mockridge said the company was "very proud" of securing the deal, which he said will give "subscribers the possibility to view all the events in a unique and exciting way."

RAI, the official Italian state broadcaster, owns Italian rights to broadcast the upcoming 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
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