Italy's communications watchdog has slapped a $130,000 fine onto rival pay-TV groups Stream and Telepiu for failing to agree to a single decoder that will allow viewers to freely zap from one channel to another.

Communications chief Enzo Cheli ordered the two groups to undertake the necessary measures within the next ten days or risk further sanctions, according to Rome daily La Repubblica. Although the fine is unlikely to cause much damage to the TV giants, Cheli said he "defied them to continue violating the law," which stipulated they produce a single decoder by July 1st.

Both groups currently use different decoder technology, meaning that viewers are forced to buy both devices if they want to watch both stations. However, since Stream and Telepiu recently reiterated that it could take up to six months for them to create the new device, the watchdog may accept an accord between the two rivals whereby viewers will no longer have to pay for both decoders.