An Italian court ruled that RAI had wrongfully blocked part of its programming on Sky Italia's satellite platform and that illegal state aid had been provided to others including Mediaset, the state broadcaster's satellite partner.
Thursday's ruling by the Lazio administrative court came on the same day Bank of Italy deputy director general Anna Maria Tarantola was confirmed as the new head of RAI after wrangling by political parties which had to approve the appointment. It follows a long-running dispute between News Corp unit Sky Italia, which transmits RAI free-to-air programming as part of its satellite pay TV package and the state broadcaster. RAI encrypts parts of its free programming including some football and news and entertainment shows, preventing Sky viewers seeing them.
The Lazio administrative court ruled RAI breached its duty as a public sector television broadcaster by failing to offer universal access to its free-to-air programming. Instead, it obliged Sky subscribers who wanted to watch encrypted RAI programmes to purchase an alternative decoder such as one from Tivusat, a satellite platform RAI set up with Mediaset, Italy's biggest private broadcaster, and Telecom Italia Media. Tivusat, launched in 2009 when Mediaset's owner, Silvio Berlusconi, was prime minister of Italy, offers free-to-air programmes on satellite for subscribers in areas which cannot receive digital terrestrial television. RAI said it would appeal.