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Vivendi’s Italian expansion blocked

Media regulator Agcom has put the brakes on Vivendi’s recent buying up of ticketing, live entertainment and broadcast assets in Italy, ordering the French conglomerate to reduce its stake in either Mediaset or Telecom Italia within the next 12 months.

Italian authorities began an investigation into Vivendi – the parent company of See Tickets, Digitick and Universal Music Group, among many others – in February after a complaint by Mediaset, in which Vivendi has a nearly 29% stake.

Mediaset, founded by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, is known primarily as Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster, but also has a live entertainment ticketing arm, Taquilla Mediaset, closely linked with Ticketmaster.

Vivendi also has a 24% holding in Telecom Italia, one of the country’s biggest telecommunications companies.

“Vivendi reserves the right to take any appropriate legal action to protect its interests”

Agcom (Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, Communications Authority) yesterday said the company now exerts excessive dominance over Italy’s entertainment and telecoms markets – a claim disputed by Vivendi, which has declared its intention to seek legal action over the ruling.

“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%.

“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.”


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