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Spanish court rejects claim over TVE’s Champions League rights

Spanish public-service broadcaster TVE’s acquisition of rights to the Uefa Champions League club football competition for the three seasons from 2012-13 to 2014-15 has been deemed legal by the Audiencia Nacional, the Spanish High Court.

TVE was hit by legal action after outbidding commercial rivals to retain its Champions League rights for the current three-year cycle.

Telecinco, Antena 3 and La Sexta had all bid in a second round of auctioning only for the rights for a first-choice match on Tuesdays, along with one semi-final, to be awarded to a joint offer from TVE and regional Catalan broadcaster TV3.

Spanish broadcaster Mediaset, which owns the Telecinco and Cuatro commercial channels, had challenged the award of the rights on the basis that that by outbidding commercial, private operators, TVE had breached the country’s Audiovisual Law and regulations governing the financing of public-service television.

However, Spanish newspaper El Pais said the Audiencia Nacional has rejected this claim stating that TVE was allowed to participate in the second round of bidding as the first round produced bids that were too low. The court added that TVE did not outbid for the rights and adhered to the legal guidelines.

The court said in its ruling: “TVE could attend the auction, which has a high commercial value and is not incompatible with the public service mission, coinciding with its high sporting interest and its obvious importance to society.”