EU 'set to demand Italian DTV refund'

Speculation is growing that Italian broadcasters Mediaset and RAI will have to refund part of a ?220m state subsidy, given to encourage take-up of digital television. EC competition commissioner Neelie Kroes announced an investigation into the subsidies in December 2005 after receiving complaints from satellite pay-TV group Sky Italia.

Kroes said the subsidies granted in 2004 and 2005 may have given Mediaset and RAI an unfair advantage in the Italian digital television market since they did not cover digital satellite.

Italy's anti-trust authority launched its own investigation into the digital decoder subsidies received by Mediaset. Last May it cleared Mediaset chief Silvio Berlusconi of breaking competition laws.

According to Italian newspaper reports, Kroes will rule on Wednesday that the subsidies favoured RAI and Mediaset.

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