April 19, 2012 / 10:24 AM / 5 years ago

Italy parliament approves TV frequency auction

ROME (Reuters) - The Italian parliament approved on Thursday a tax bill including an amendment ordering the auction of digital television frequencies that had been fiercely criticized by the centre-right party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The lower house voted 459 in favor and 71 against to pass a confidence motion on the tax bill, which included the frequencies law reversing a decision by Berlusconi's government to give away the frequencies.

The centre-right People of Freedom party voted confidence in the government of Prime Minister Mario Monti, which would have had to resign if it had lost.

Estimates of how much revenue the government can make from the auction of the frequencies has ranged from 1.5 billion euros ($1.96 billion) to 4 billion euros.

The six digital frequencies would be able to carry six channels each.

Mediaset, the company owned by the Berlusconi family, wanted the frequencies to be assigned by the so-called beauty contest method, in which they are assigned for free to broadcasters considered most qualified.

Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Alison Williams

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