Formula 1 qualifying sessions and races are free to watch, they're on "RAI UNO" or "RAI DUE" (both parts of the public broadcast); Moto GP q.s. and races are on "Italia Uno" (a private one) and they're free too.
There's no important sport event you have to pay to watch. No matches of the National Soccer Team (ehm ... "We are the (world) champions"), no Champions League matches.
Every year, though, you have to pay for public broadcasting (about 120 euros, that's about 170 USD). Nothing is requested by other companies, they send commercials.
Oh, but the public broadcast sends commercials too ...
"RAI" stands for Radio Audizioni Italiane, something like "Italian Radio Listenings", since it was established when we had only radio services (in the early 30's, named "EIAR").
The strongest private player is "Mediaset", a company owned by the family of mr. Silvio BERLUSCONI, Italy's Prime Minister. MEDIASET includes "Canale 5" (general TV), "Rete 4" (soaps, serials, love stories ... a womens' tv
)and "Italia 1" (sports, music ... young generations' tv).
Mr. BERLUSCONI was involved in the seventies in the building business; as he planned "Milano 2", a new technological city a little out from Milan, he provided each house with cable connection from an internal tv studio.
That was the beginning of the private broadcasting in Italy.
And ... guess what ?
Mr. BERLUSCONI has a passion for entertaining even because in his early years (today he's 73) he performed as a crooner on cruise ships. He played guitar, his school mate Fedele CONFALONIERI (CEO of MEDIASET) played piano ...