Portuguese competition authority denies reports of blocking deals

The Autoridade da Concorrência, Portugal’s competition regulator, has denied reports that it has decided to block a series of football media rights deals featuring the Altice and Nos telecommunications companies.

A report in the Sol newspaper said the authority would cancel rights agreements between Nos and Benfica and Sporting as well as Altice and Porto.

Primeira Liga clubs sell their rights on an individual basis and Nos in December signed a deal with Benfica that will run for a maximum of 10 seasons, from 2016-17 to 2025-26. Nos has since sealed long-term deals for the home matches of Académica, Arouca, Belenenses, Braga, Marítimo, Nacional, Paços de Ferreira, Benfica’s fellow Lisbon-based giant Sporting and Vitória Setúbal.

Altice, which owns Portugal Telecom and its pay-television operator Meo, has acquired the media and sponsorship rights of Porto and Rio Ave, both in 10-season deals from 2018-19 to 2027-28.

Earlier this month, the authority said it had concerns over the potentially excessive duration of the deals.

“Following the news reports in the Sol newspaper, the competition authority states that it has not taken any decision on the contracts for coverage of football matches between clubs and the Meo and Nos telco operators,” the regulator said. “The competition authority is collecting information on recent developments in the market regarding the marketing of television rights to premium sports content and, in terms of the use of its supervisory powers, will assess in due course how to intervene.”