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Spanish competition watchdog threatens Telefonica sanctions

Spanish competition regulator the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y La Competencia (CNMC) has threatened Spanish telco Telefónica with sanctions over alleged overcharging for access to rights for the 2016-17 season.

The CNMC said in a report published Wednesday that the telco breached the conditions of its 2015 acquisition of pay-TV platform Digital+. The conditions stipulated that Telefónica must make all its premium channels available for competitors to broadcast, with each competitor entitled to a maximum of 50 per cent of them in any combination they chose.

Telefónica is alleged to have considered a smaller number of competitors than were required during the tender processes for its Movistar Partidazo channel, which shows premium football and motor sports content, omitting some competitors and leading to allegations of overcharging for rights for others.

The telco was required to allow third-party pay-TV operators access to premium content channels, including those showing Spanish LaLiga football, the Champions League and racing competition Formula One.

Despite Telefónica acknowledging its fiscal error in September 2018, third-party pay-TV licensees were said to have not been refunded the additional cost.

The CNMC is now ordering Telefónica to recalculate those amounts and reimburse any who were exploited during the tender process before the regulator imposes sanctions on it.

Telefónica was approached for comment, but hadn’t responded at time of writing.