Prisa hits out at Mediapro rights auction

Spanish pay-television operator Prisa has accused the Mediapro agency of launching an “illegal” sales process for rights covering the country’s top two football divisions for the next two seasons, 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Prisa said that Mediapro’s auction, which the agency announced on Friday, includes some rights that have already been assigned to the operator on an exclusive basis. Seven of the clubs said to have existing deals with Prisa – Real Zaragoza, Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Celta Vigo, Espanyol, Getafe and Real Sociedad – said in a joint statement that they are committed to their deals with the operator, according to the ADSLZone TV website.

Prisa added that Mediapro’s auction does not comply with regulations established by Comisión Nacional de la Competencia, Spain’s antitrust authority, which last week launched formal disciplinary proceedings against Mediapro for allegedly abusing a dominant position by restricting the ability of certain clubs to assign rights to third-party operators.

Prisa-owned pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus said that legal action would be taken to defend the existing deals and added that it would continue to work towards finding “the best framework for the 2012-13 season.”

The free-to-air and pay-television rights offered to the market by Mediapro were split into six packages and cover La Liga, the top flight of Spanish football, and the second-tier Segunda División.

Mediapro, which said it has “virtually all media rights for football teams” that participate in the top two divisions, gave interested parties until August 9 to submit their bids.

Despite the dispute, Liga de Fútbol Profesional, the Spanish football league said that the 2012-13 season of La Liga would not be delayed beyond its scheduled start date.

“Without any room for doubt, the league will begin on August 18 as planned in the official calendar,” the league said.