Industry News

Vivendi threatens action over Italian decision

See Tickets and Digitick owner Vivendi has threatened to make a complaint to the European Commission after Italy’s media regulator said it must divest part of its business to conform to the country’s media concentration rules.

Agcom told Vivendi, the French conglomerate which also owns Universal Media Group and Canal+ Group, it must reduce its stake in either Mediaset or Telecom Italia. Vivendi Ticketing, which operates brands such as See Tickets in the UK and US and Digitick in France, sells around 35 million tickets annually.

The watchdog ruled that Vivendi should not be allowed to hold its sizeable stakes in Italy’s main telecom operator and principal commercial broadcaster and would have to sell one or the other within 12 months.

Vivendi, which currently controls about 24 per cent of Telecom Italia and 29 per cent of Mediaset, has not been told how much of a divestment will be required.

In a statement the Paris-headquartered company said: “Vivendi has always operated within Italian law, and specifically the Gasparri law regarding the protection of media pluralism from the creation of dominant positions.

In particular, it is indisputable that Vivendi neither controls nor exercises a dominant influence on Mediaset, which is controlled on an exclusive basis by [the Berlusconis’ holding company] Fininvest, with a stake close to 40 per cent.

“Vivendi reserves the right to take any appropriate legal action to protect its interests, including filing an appeal to the Agcom decision at the Regional Administrative Court (TAR) and to submit a formal complaint to the European Commission for the breach of EU law.

“Vivendi continues to be fully confident in the rule of law and is certain that finally its rights will be recognised.”

Agcom’s ruling follows an investigation as to whether Vivendi is in breach of a provision of the Testo Unico dei Servizi di Media Audiovisivi e Radiofonici (TUSMAR) regulation that electronics communications companies with a market share of more than 40 per cent cannot control more than 10 per cent of a major media operator.