RAI Sport will show tonight’s Juventus-Torino game without commentary, in protest over subscription-based television.
The Italian state broadcaster didn’t win the rights to show the World Cup, and doesn’t have any Serie A matches as the rights are split between Sky and Mediaset.
In the UK events such as the World Cup and the Wimbledon tennis championships have to be broadcast for free, and there is a similar law in Italy.
Events such as the World Cup, the Olympics, the Italian Grand Prix and the Giro d’Italia have to be broadcast free, even partially, delayed or highlighted.
However, with the loss of next summer’s World Cup, after Italy failed to qualify, the state broadcaster's employees are taking a stand against what journalists see as the rise of pay-TV.
“We apologise for the inconvenience,” a statement from RAI Sport’s analysts announcing a lack of commentary on tonight’s match reads.
“However, this is a necessary protest to affirm the rights of you, the citizens who pay the licence fee, to attend the most important sporting events for free. In fact, these always get the most extraordinary viewing figures.
“RAI, on the other hand, will not broadcast any major events live on TV, such as the World Cup. It’s the first time this has happened, and Formula 1 is also at risk, all for the benefit of private competition.
“The company and the directorship of RAI Sport therefore make opposing choices, spending money on expensive collaborations and buying products from outside companies.
“We want a public service RAI that transmits more sport, with more quality.
“We consider it unacceptable that sport is now a privilege for those who can afford a pay-TV subscription.
“We want sport for anyone and everyone.”
The broadcaster hit back in a statement, pointing out it spends over €200m per year on sport, and stating that investing heavily in World Cup coverage when Italy haven’t qualified is not in the public interest.
The statement also notes “instead of valuing the events for which Rai does hold the rights, such as the Coppa Italia, the journalists of Rai Sport have decided to deprive the viewers of their authoritative comment.”