Italy broadcast authority approves digital TV auction rules

ROME, April 11 Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:17pm EDT

ROME, April 11 (Reuters) - Italy's broadcasting industry authority approved rules on Thursday for the conduct of its auction of digital terrestrial television frequencies that prevent the big established operators from bidding for new licences.

Broadcasting authority Agcom had already ruled that only new entrants to the market could compete for the full package of 20-year frequency licences, ruling out Mediaset, state broadcaster RAI and Telecom Italia.

Under slightly amended rules announced on Thursday, Agcom said that three so-called multiplex groups of channels transmitted on digital bandwidth would be auctioned.

Previous plans to put extra five-year frequency options on 700 megahertz bans dedicated to mobile telephone television have been dropped.

It said new entrants and small operators would be free to bid for all three while groups which already hold two multiplexes will be eligible to bid for two packages.

In a measure which would allow News Corp's Italian pay TV unit, Sky Italia, to bid, it said that groups with a market share of more than 50 percent of the pay TV segment would be eligible to bid for a single multiplex.

The bigger groups which already hold three or more multiplex, including Mediaset, RAI and Telecom Italia, are ruled out of bidding.

(Reporting By James Mackenzie; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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