Mediaset responds to Sky Italia criticism

Says TV sector not in need of government intervention

ROME -- The war of words between two of Europe's largest broadcasters escalated in recent days when Fedele Confalonieri, chairman of Mediaset, chastised the head of rival Sky-Italia for calling on the government to take steps to introduce greater competition in the television sector.

Mediaset "will not take lessons about competition from a member of the world's most dominant media groups," Confalonieri said in a statement e-mailed to journalists, referring to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Sky-Italia's parent company.

Confalonieri's comments come in the wake of Monday's open letter from Sky-Italia CEO Tom Mockridge, which was published in the country's leading daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera. In the letter, Mockridge said that the Italian system that allowed rival Mediaset SpA to grow to the point that it dominated television media and received 65% of television ad revenue was "flawed." He called on the government to push for more competition in the sector.

Mediaset, which is controlled by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is Sky-Italia's biggest rival.

In his e-mail, Confalonieri also pointed out that Sky-Italia owns 90% of the Italian pay TV sector. He said the television sector in Italy was healthy and not in need of government intervention.

In an interview, Italian antitrust officials said they were unlikely to take steps to introduce more competition into the sector, but said they were monitoring the situation closely.
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