Murdoch’s Sky Said to Reach Deal on Telecom Italia TV Channels

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia SpA reached an agreement to rent five digital terrestrial television channels from Telecom Italia SpA as it competes with Mediaset SpA for rights to show Italian soccer matches, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Sky and Telecom Italia Media Broadcasting Srl reached an agreement at the end of May, ahead of the decision on the auction for 2015-2018 broadcasting rights for Italy’s top soccer league, Serie A, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. They didn’t give a value of the deal, which allows Sky to start broadcasting the terrestrial channels from October 2014 to June 2015.

Sky Italia, which has about 4.8 million subscribers, needs to have terrestrial channels to complete its offerings because the company mainly operates in Italy via satellite and high-speed broadband networks. Its main competitor, Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, runs free-to-air channels as well as a pay-TV service called Mediaset Premium.

Infront Italy Srl, the manager of the Serie A TV rights bidding, plans to announce the outcome of the auction next week. Sky Italia may win packages that includes 248 matches involving eight top-division teams for about 775 million euros ($1.1 billion) for one season, according to one of the people.

Mediaset may get the rights for a package that includes 132 matches involving 12 teams for about 300 million euros, another person familiar with the auction said.

Sky is seeking to reach 95 percent of Italian households through a pay-TV offer on a digital terrestrial platform.

A spokesman for Sky Italia in Milan declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Telecom Italia Media declined to comment.

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