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Spanish Competition Regulator Urges LaLiga to Include Free-to-Air Broadcasters

 |  December 19, 2023

The Spanish National Commission on Markets and Competition (CNMC) has issued a call to LaLiga, the country’s top-flight football league, urging it to avoid excluding free-to-air (FTA) broadcasters in the marketing of its television rights for the seasons beginning in 2024-25.

In its latest recommendation, the CNMC emphasized the need for transparency and fairness in the awarding of broadcasting rights packages domestically, starting from the 2024-25 season. The regulator’s intervention comes amid concerns regarding the exclusion of FTA broadcasters in LaLiga’s current tender conditions.

The current agreement, which runs from the 2022-23 to the 2024-25 season, grants FTA rights to Mediapro, a prominent sports media agency, at a value slightly below €14 million ($14.7 million). As part of this deal, Mediapro broadcasts one free match per round through its FTA channel Gol, in addition to providing highlights.

In a ruling published on December 18, the CNMC stated that LaLiga must conduct the award process with due regard for “standards of transparency, competence, and non-discrimination.” The regulator found that some of the league’s tender conditions did not comply with the requirements outlined in the Royal Decree-Law 5/2015.

Specifically, the CNMC cited concerns regarding two bundles of rights—one with five matches per week and another with three single match days covering 10 fixtures—from the 2024-25 to the 2026-27 season for customers in Spain and Andorra.

Apart from urging the inclusion of FTA broadcasters, the CNMC called on LaLiga to employ “objective criteria that can be assessed as far as possible by means of formulas, increasing certainty for operators.” Additionally, the regulator recommended limiting discretionary decisions made by LaLiga, including reserve prices and extra weighing for certain offers based on technical-professional criteria.

The CNMC’s intervention underscores the importance of fair competition and access to broadcasting rights in Spanish football. LaLiga will now be required to adjust its award process to align with the regulator’s recommendations, ensuring a level playing field for broadcasters and fostering a competitive environment within the industry.

Source: Sport Cal