Sky Italia seeking damages from watchdog for favouring Mediaset

MILAN, June 27 Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:42am EDT

MILAN, June 27 (Reuters) - Sky Italia, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, has filed a suit for damages against communications watchdog Agcom, claiming it acted in favour of local Italian rival Mediaset, a spokesman for the unit said on Thursday.

Sky Italia is seeking damages of 100 million euros ($130 million) from Agcom, alleging it allowed Mediaset unit Publitalia to sell advertising space on both analogue and digital TV channels in 2011, the spokesman said.

That move contradicted a previous decision by the regulator and distorted the advertising market, the spokesman added.

Agcom declined to comment, while Mediaset, controlled by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, was not immediately available for comment.

In 2005, the regulator called on Mediaset to use a different advertising sales agency from Publitalia for digital advertising.

A year later, Mediaset created Digitalia to sell advertising for new digital channels.

A subsequent decision taken by Agcom in 2011 removed this obligation, prompting Sky to appeal to an administrative court which overturned the ruling.

In January this year Italy's highest administrative court threw out a subsequent appeal by Agcom and confirmed the lower court's ruling in Sky's favour.

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