Canal Plus makes legal challenge to Mediapro’s Téléfoot demands

French pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus has initiated legal proceedings in a complaint over the ‘unequal’ treatment it feels is being meted out by agency and production group Mediapro in carriage talks over its new Téléfoot subscription service.

Distribution deals for Téléfoot, which launched last month on the back of Mediapro’s deals for French football’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 rights, have been negotiated with French telcos Orange, Free, Bouygues and Altice.

However, an accord with Canal Plus has not been negotiated and the Vivendi-owned broadcaster today (Friday) revealed that it has referred the “conditions imposed on it by Mediapro” to a commercial court in Paris in order to “put an end to the unequal treatment it is subject to and to obtain fair and non-discriminatory conditions”.

A hearing is due to be heard on September 24.

Canal Plus continued: “The preconditions for any negotiations imposed by the Mediapro Group on the Canal Plus Group are akin to impossible conditions, are unrealistic in current market conditions and are intended to exclude the Canal Plus Group from the distribution of Téléfoot’s particularly attractive football offering.”

Mediapro defeated Canal Plus in the tender to acquire the Ligue 1 rights, acquiring the bulk of the rights for €780m ($925m) per season.

Maxime Saada, president of Canal Plus, told L’Équipe that the conditions proposed by Mediapro are “unrealistic” and “even surreal”.

Saada remarked: “They ask us for a guaranteed number of subscribers, on which we would have to make a payment, which represents about one third of our total subscriber base and that is three times the total number of subscribers to the Canal Plus sports package.

“We are absolutely convinced that these are not the conditions that were asked of the other operators. We distribute a certain number of channels, including Canal Plus, via internet service providers. We are well aware of the conditions under which distribution contracts can be signed for content. We know that those requested for Téléfoot today cannot have been accepted by other internet service providers.”

Saada added: “I’m afraid they’re trying to make us pay the amounts they might not have got from others. That’s out of the question for Canal Plus!”

Téléfoot is showing eight live Ligue 1 fixtures and eight live Ligue 2 fixtures per match week. Mediapro has also secured Uefa Europa League and Europa Conference League rights from 2021-22 to 2023-24.