UPDATE 1-Italy’s competition watchdog starts probe into TIM deal with DAZN on Serie A

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MILAN, July 8 (Reuters) – Italy’s antitrust regulator said on Thursday it had opened a probe into a deal between sports streaming app DAZN and Telecom Italia (TIM) on Serie A matches to assess whether it would hurt competition.

Telecom Italia sealed a technical and distribution agreement with DAZN, which secured the rights to screen the matches of Italy’s top flight soccer league over the next three season for 2.5 billion euros ($2.95 billion).

Under the deal, the former state phone monopoly, which bets on soccer to promote its ultra-fast broadband and pay-TV services, will cover more than 40% of the annual payments DAZN has to make to Serie A, a document seen by Reuters showed.

“The agreement between TIM and DAZN could lead to significant distortions of competition,” the competition authority said in a statement.

The watchdog added the accord could be detrimental to competitive development in the pay-TV market and related busineses, including fixed retail, wholesale broadband services and mobile telecommunications.

Pay-TV operator SKY Italia, owned by Comcast, and other Telecom Italia rivals had challenged the agreement on antitrust grounds, saying the deal could strength TIM’s already dominant position in the broadband market. ($1 = 0.8480 euros) (Reporting by Elvira Pollina, editing by Agnieszka Flak)


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