Italy Court Sides With News Corp. in Fight With Berlusconi's Mediaset

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Silvio Berlusconi

Mediaset claimed that it had unfairly missed out on broadcasting World Cup soccer matches two years ago.

ROME – A Milan court said Tuesday that it had ruled in favor of News Corp.’s Italian subsidiary Sky-Italia in an arbitration case related to soccer World Cup coverage against Italian rival Mediaset, the broadcast giant controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The Court of Arbitration refused Mediaset’s action claimed it was unfairly missed out on broadcasting World Cup soccer games two years ago. Sky-Italia, a sattelite broadaster, won the rights in an open bidding process, and Mediaset sued on the grounds that it should be allowed to broadcast some game based on undertakings signed with the European Commission in 2003.

When the decision did not come before the 2010 World Cup, Mediaset again sued for damages tied to not broadcasting the event. The Milan court, however, ruled that Mediaset’s complaints were without merit because the World Cup broadcasts were not “essential for the competitiveness of a competing television operator.”

Sky-Italia applauded the court’s decision, while a spokesman for Mediaset said the company wished to study the ruling before commenting.