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Competition watchdog extends Telefónica content sharing requirement to 2023

Spanish telco Telefónica will have to make its premium sports channels available to competitors for three more years after Spain’s competition watchdog extended the requirement until at least 2023.

The original ruling from Spanish competition watchdog, the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC), came in 2015 after Telefónica acquired the Spanish arm of telco Altice.

Its intention was to avoid a Telefónica monopoly of the pay-television market and requires the telco to make 50 per cent of all its content available to be carried on rival broadcasters’ platforms.

In its ruling, the CNMC said the same conditions that threatened competition in the Spanish market in 2015 still remained in 2020. As a result, it felt that it was necessary to extend the requirements for a further three years.

Issuing its decision, the CNMC said that it “has taken into account that Telefónica continues to have market power in pay-TV, as well as the remarkable growth in the proportion of customers whose pay-TV services are packaged with other electronic communications services”.

Telefónica has the opportunity to appeal to Spain’s National Court within the next two months, but the CNMC will not hear any appeal from the telco filed directly to it. As Telefónica has agreed to all restrictions thus far, it is considered highly unlikely that the telco will now seek to contest the CNMC’s ruling.

Telefónica’s sports content contains the most highly-prized properties in Spain, including the country’s top two tiers of domestic football LaLiga (until 2022), the Uefa Champions League and Europa League (until 2024) and motor racing Formula 1 (until the end of 2020).

There is no requirement for Telefónica to make this content available for free and any carriage deal fees will be determined by how many subscribers the licensee has.

This was evidenced in its recent content deal with fellow telco Orange. That deal permits Orange to carry Telefónica’s pay-television Movistar LaLiga and Movistar Liga de Campeones channels during the 2020-21 season and is worth around €300m ($343.7m).

All stipulations first implemented by the CNMC in 2015 have now been maintained, with the exception of those placed on the exclusive acquisition of non-sports media rights for exploitation on SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) platforms.