Spanish regulator looks into Telefonica-Mediapro football deal

The Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y La Competencia (CNMC), Spain’s competition regulator, is looking into the agreement signed between telecommunications company Telefónica and the Mediapro agency for carriage of the new beIN Sports LaLiga pay-television channel, according to multiple reports.

The Reuters news agency, citing inside sources, said there “might be signs of breach of the commitments accepted by Telefónica when it bought Canal Plus”. In April, the CNMC gave the green light to Telefónica’s takeover of Spanish pay-television operator Canal Plus, subject to certain conditions.

The source cited by Reuters added: “Telefónica may have broken the rule of not buying any exclusive broadcasting rights of any pay-TV networks produced by other companies. We have told them to look over the agreement in order to give a chance to their competitors.”

The development comes after Orange and Vodafone this month claimed that rival telco Telefónica should share carriage of beIN Sports LaLiga. Telefónica's DTS unit earlier agreed to pay Mediapro €2.4bn ($2.6bn) to carry beIN Sports LaLiga on an exclusive basis for three seasons, from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

Orange said that Telefónica “has an obligation to distribute the rights” while Vodafone said that the channel will have to be included in Telefónica’s wholesale package.

Orange and Vodafone cited a condition imposed by the CNMC when the acquisition of Canal Plus by Telefónica was authorised. The condition said that Telefónica must share 50 per cent of its premium content, such as movies and sports coverage, with its rivals.

Coverage on the channel will include the top-tier LaLiga, second-tier Segunda División and the Copa del Rey knockout competition for all three seasons, plus matches from the Uefa Champions League and Europa League European club competitions until at least the end of the 2017-18 campaign.