ROME (Reuters) – The European Commission last week raised questions over the validity of a recently approved Italian media law, which could potentially curb French group Vivendi’s interests in the country, daily la Repubblica reported on Monday.
In a letter sent to Italy’s Industry Ministry on Friday, the Commission said the law was not notified to Brussels, making it potentially inapplicable, according to the la Repubblica report.
The new rule could be “incoherent with European treaties,” the report said, citing the document.
Last month, Italy approved stop-gap legislation allowing national communications regulator AGCOM to start a probe into Vivendi’s Italian assets, to evaluate whether these holdings are harmful to media plurality.
Vivendi, controlled by billionaire Vincent Bollore, holds a 29% stake in Italy’s top commercial broadcaster Mediaset, and is also top investor in former phone monopolist Telecom Italia (TIM) with a 24% holding.
The new law could help Mediaset – controlled by the family of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi- in a long-running dispute with its second-largest shareholder Vivendi.
The two groups have been locked in a fight since 2016 when Vivendi ditched an accord to buy Mediaset’s pay-TV unit and built its 29% stake, which the Italian broadcaster considers hostile. Attempts to reach a compromise have been unsuccessful so far.
(Reporting by Giulia Segreti, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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