In an ultimate bid to get a reaction out of pay-TV outfit Sky Italia, Italy's national union of independent film producers and directors (API) warned that it could, in future, by-pass the pay-TV window altogether and sell films to free-to-air broadcasters before selling pay-TV rights.

Heads of Rai Cinema and Medusa, whose parent companies are free-to-air broadcasters Rai and Mediaset, agreed with the potential shock tactic.

API's provocation comes after Sky Italia's failure to respond to widespread concern from the local industry regarding its lack of investment in Italian film.

This autumn, it emerged that Italy's only pay-TV platform aims to spend a total of Euros 50m on all acquisitions from Italian distributors - including Hollywood titles such as Return Of The King - and will, therefore, only invest a fraction on local titles.

As a result, industry insiders estimate that only 20% of Sky Italia's budget - around Euros10m - will actually be spent on Italian film.

Sky Italia has already heavily cut pay-TV acquisition prices - according to several sources, by "around 50%" on prices previously paid by Telepiu.

"We have gone from a duopoly which saw Telepiu invest a lot of money to produce Italian films, to a monopoly, which has seen Sky Italia cut investments by 50%," said API president Angelo Barbagallo at a conference in Rome on cinema and TV in Europe.

"All this has been made worse by the fact that under Italian law, Sky, like free-TV broadcasters, is allowed to invest only 10% of its advertising revenue in European film. But Sky's money comes from subscribers, much more than from advertising," he said.

"Once again, we have not been able to talk to Sky representatives," Barbagallo added, after Sky failed to show up at the conference.

Both Giampaolo Letta, vice-president and CEO of Medusa, and Rai Cinema head Giancarlo Leone agreed with API's proposal to bypass the pay-TV window altogether. "We have to do something. We can't forget that we have, on our side, the one product which besides football, pay-TV needs," said Letta.