Spanish regulator issues Telefónica with fine in football rights case

Spain’s competition regulator, the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y La Competencia, has fined telco Telefónica and pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus €15.5m ($17.1m) for alleged anti-competitive behaviour in the exploitation of football rights for the three seasons from 2012-13 to 2014-15.

The sanctions amount to €10m for Telefónica and €5.5m for Canal Plus. Telefónica in July 2014 secured a 100-per-cent shareholding in Canal Plus through its acquisition of Mediaset España’s 22-per-cent stake for €295m. Telefónica had already agreed a deal to acquire a 56-per-cent stake in Canal Plus from media company Prisa for €750m, raising its interest to 78 per cent. The CNMC approved the takeover in April.

In August 2012, Telefónica and Canal Plus reached two agreements for the commercialisation of rights to the Canal+ Liga de Campeones and Canal+ Liga channels. The CNMC ruled both agreements were part of an overarching attempt to act in a coordinated manner in the acquisition, resale and secondary rights exploitation of the rights, favouring Telefónica over other pay-television operators.

Spanish news agency Europa Press said Telefónica will appeal the decision before the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s high court, through which it will claim injunctive measures in a bid to stop the punishment.