EU to launch infringement procedure against Italian media law, newspaper says

A Vivendi sign can be seen at the company’s headquarters in Paris, France, April 8, 2015. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes

The European Commission is preparing to launch infringement proceedings against Italy over a media law that could restrict Vivendi’s (VIV.PA) interests in the country, the Repubblica newspaper reported on Friday.

The Commission questioned the validity of the law, approved by Rome in November, which allowed the national communications regulator AGCOM to open an investigation into the Italian assets of Vivendi in order to assess whether these holdings undermine the pluralism of media.

The French Vivendi, controlled by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, owns 29% of the capital of the first Italian commercial television group Mediaset (MS.MI), and is also the largest investor in the former telephone monopoly Telecom Italia (TIM) (TLIT. MI) with a 24% stake. holding.

The law gives the Italian regulator the power to impose restrictions on companies holding stakes in both telecommunications and television companies, after assessing total revenues, barriers to entry and the level of competition in those companies. sectors.

“The Commission considers that such rules protecting media pluralism contained in the Italian law of November should have been notified under the Transparency Directive,” a spokesperson for the European Commission said at a briefing on Friday weekly.

“I can also say that we are examining the conformity of the adopted law with the relevant trade union right,” added the spokesperson.

Vivendi had filed a formal complaint with the European Commission against the Italian law, saying it was aimed at helping Mediaset, controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in a long-standing dispute against the French group.

However, last month, Mediaset and Vivendi ended years of legal battles with a deal under which the Paris-based company will significantly reduce its stake in the broadcaster over the next five years. Read more

Two court sources close to Vivendi told Reuters that opening infringement proceedings would have no effect on the long-awaited deal between the two companies, which will be finalized in July.

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