In May 2009 the Investigations Division of the Spanish Competition Authority ('CNC'), found initial evidence that Mediaproducción S.L. ('Mediapro') had bundled different packages of TV broadcasting licences for matches and highlights of La Liga (Spanish regular league) and Copa del Rey (King's Cup) football competitions for the 2009/2010 to 2011/2012 seasons and invited certain TV operators to present offers within a brief time frame. This prompted the Investigations Division to initiate an investigation into the matter.

The CNC subsequently received a complaint from Canal Satélite Digital, S.L. (a member of the Prisa group) against Mediapro for refusing to supply Canal Satélite with the transmission signal for La Liga and Copa del Rey football matches for pay-per-view ('PPV') broadcast in Spain. It was alleged that supply of PPV broadcast rights was tied to contracting and selling Mediapro's own "Gol Bar" service, specifically aimed at hotels, restaurants, bars and cafeterias.

On 3 September 2009 the CNC's Investigations Division decided to open formal investigation proceedings against Mediapro and its subsidiary Gol Televisión, S.L. ('Gol TV') for anticompetitive practices contrary to Articles 1 and 2 of the Spanish Competition Act 15/2007, and Articles 101 and 102 TFEU arising from its resale of the broadcast rights of La Liga and Copa del Rey matches in Spain.

The CNC stated that Mediapro held the audiovisual rights for the league and Copa del Rey matches of all teams in the first and second divisions in Spain for 2009/2010 and subsequent seasons, giving it a dominant position in the market for resale of these audiovisual broadcast rights. Furthermore, Mediapro was present in the free-to-air TV market through its channel La Sexta and in pay-TV with Gol TV.

In its recent decision, the CNC has now held that certain features in the design of Mediapro's system for reselling and exploiting the audiovisual broadcast rights for league and King's Cup football matches were inconsistent with the principles of transparency, objectivity and non-discrimination that must govern the activity of an operator with a dominant position.

Mediapro had in that way hindered competition in the market for resale of audiovisual broadcast rights of football matches in La Liga and Copa del Rey competitions and in the downstream television markets, particularly in pay-TV, by engaging in unjustified discrimination in licensing the use of those rights by operators. Thus, Mediapro had artificially strengthened the competitive advantage of Gol TV, in violation of Article 2 of the Spanish Competition Act and Article 102 of the TFEU.

Consequently, the CNC has decided to levy a fine on Mediapro and Gol TV, jointly and severally, of €500,000 for abusing their dominant position in those markets.

To view Community Week, Issue 514, 25th March 2011 in full, click here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.