The National Commission on Markets and Competition (CNMC) has fined Radio Televisión Española (TVE) - the main Spanish Public TV Broadcaster- with 1,070,765 euros after deciding in two resolutions that TVE had infringed the Law 8/2009 on Financing the Public TV & Radio Corporation during 2017 and 2018.

According to the aforesaid regulation, TVE is not allowed to include advertising content in their programs and pre-programs. However, the law also establishes self-promotion and sports & cultural sponsorships as exceptions to the general prohibition.

On the basis of sports and cultural sponsorships, TVE would have been broadcasting advertisements on several television programs, and CNMC, who oversees the proper functioning of the audiovisual communication market, initiated two sanction procedures against TVE to clarify if advertisements were or were not sports and cultural sponsorships.

Regarding sports sponsorships, the CNMC analysed 9 different advertising campaigns on TV shows about the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  TVE, as an intent of defence, alleged that:

  • TVE has not being paid by any of the companies advertised.
  • The several campaigns fall under the scope of the sponsorships contracts arranged between ADO (Olympic Sports Association) and TVE. Commercial communications take part of the sponsorships agreements of the TV show.
  • Advertising campaigns fall under the scope of the agreements for the audio-visual exploitation of sports events.
  • Sponsorships are an indivisible part of the acquisition of rights and production. The spots are self-promotions of the TV show.
  • The advertising campaign of the ADO program is an institutional campaign that TVE must broadcast, which reinforces its public service nature.

Among its arguments, CNMC reminded that monetary compensation is not the only way of being compensation, and that TVE had benefited from those spots campaigns by receiving exploitation rights on ADO events for free. CNMC also claims that the different campaigns do not fall under the scope of the term “sponsorship” or under any of the other exceptions.

Regarding cultural sponsorships, the CNMC concludes that the advertisements broadcasted include visual and accessory elements or mentions about the virtues and characteristics of the products that directly encourage their purchase, so that cannot be considered sponsorships.

Therefore, CNMC confirmed the liability of TVE for administrative infractions, and sets two fines of 341,280 and 729,485 euros for the illegitimate inclusion of advertising content among and along its television programming.

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