CNMC ‘urges’ changes to LaLiga’s international rights sales

The Comisión de los Mercados y La Competencia (CNMC), Spain’s competition watchdog, has urged LaLiga to amend its tender processes within and beyond the European Economic Area for the media rights to the top two divisions of Spanish football.

The CNMC claims that tender documents issued by LaLiga, which governs both divisions, do not currently comply with the laws set out in the 2015 Royal Decree. The watchdog has called for amendments in the following areas:

  • Limiting the audiovisual content to the times specified in Article 1.1 of Royal Decree-Law 5/2015
  • Adhering to the powers granted to it in the Royal Decree-Law, namely “the joint marketing” of the audiovisual rights included in the scope of the law and adapting the content of the rights being marketed to said powers
  • Not including unjustified reservations of rights or advertising/sponsorship requirements
  • Clarifying the scope of the content of the packages and defining the evaluation criteria that will be used to award the rights in order to ensure a transparent and competitive process
  • Changing those aspects indicated in the report that are contrary to the principles of publicity, transparency, competitiveness and non-discrimination in the procedure for submitting bids and awarding the rights

Any changes to its tenders would be made voluntarily by LaLiga as it is not under any obligations to make any alterations at this point. SportBusiness understands that LaLiga has responded to these recommendations as is customary in any CNMC process.

News of the CNMC position coincided with the issuing of LaLiga’s latest tender on February 20, including the rights from 2021-22 to 2023-24 in the Nordic countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Barcelona-based rights and production agency Mediapro is advising LaLiga on the sale of its media rights.

Numerous tender processes have previously been flagged up by Spain’s competition watchdog for contravening Spanish and European Union competition rules, including LaLiga’s domestic rights tender for the 2019-20 to 2021-22 cycle.

The CNMC has also taken aim at tenders issued by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) in recent memory. The RFEF’s tender processes for the Copa del Rey knockout tournament.