Sky-Italia Wins Antitrust Battle Against TV Ratings Agency Auditel

Auditel fined $2.3 million for favoring RAI and Mediaset in the way it monitored viewership levels.

 

ROME – News Corp. unit Sky-Italia on Thursday won its big antitrust battle against television ratings agency Auditel, when the country’s competition watchdog fined Auditel €1.8 million ($2.3 million) for abusing its position by favoring Sky-Italia rivals RAI and Mediaset in the way it monitored viewership levels.

The decision follows an official complaint from Sky-Italia, which alleged that Auditel mis-measured the popularity of Sky-Italia programming, making its market appear smaller and making it more difficult for the company to attract advertisers.

RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, and Mediaset, the broadcast giant owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, are Auditel shareholders, while Sky-Italia is not.

During the investigation, Auditel claimed technical difficulties in monitoring Sky-Italia’s programming because it is carried by satellite, rather than the traditional terrestrial broadcast signals used by RAI and Mediaset. The antitrust authority rejected that argument.

Even as the antitrust investigation was taking place, Sky-Italia called for an audience measurement review in order to prove its market share was larger than Auditel reported.

It was not immediately clear if Auditel would choose to appeal the decision.

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