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The Spanish CNMC imposed fines on football clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid, Racing de Santander and Sevilla and TV broadcaster Mediapro

Spanish Flag aloft
Friday, 10 January 2014 By Alfonso Rincón

In a decision of 28 November 2013 the Spanish competition authority CNMC imposed fines on various football clubs (Fútbol Club Barcelona, Real Racing Club de Santander, S.A.D., Sevilla Fútbol Club, S.A.D. and Real Madrid Club de Fútbol) and TV broadcaster Mediaproducción, S.L. (Mediapro) for licensing their broadcasting rights for more than three years.

The proceedings were opened for non-compliance with a previous decision of the CNMC of 14 April 2010 (case S/0006/07) that concluded that exclusive broadcasting agreements signed between various TV broadcasters and football clubs that exceeded three years were contrary to competition law. The CNMC found at that time that the whole group of agreements concluded between each football club and various broadcasters restricted competition. The CNMC focused on the foreclosure effect originated by the existence of a network of similar exclusive supply agreements. The CNMC also took into account that broadcasting rights were resold downstream. In this regard, the CNMC held — in line with the European Commission practice in cases Champions League, Premier League and Bundesliga — that although the exclusive broadcasting agreements might generate efficiencies in the sense of Article 101(3) TFEU, there were no reasons to justify a duration of more than three years. The CNMC considered that three years were adequate for a satisfactory exploitation of the football broadcasting rights. The CNMC did not impose fines at that time because until then neither the European nor the Spanish competition authorities had raised concerns about the legality of agreements individually concluded by football clubs.

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Written by

Alfonso Rincón

Alfonso Rincón

Alfonso Rincón, PhD, is associate in Martínez Lage, Allendesalazar & Brokelmann Abogados, a Spanish law firm specialising in EU and Competition Law. He specialises in Spanish and EU competition law, the EU single market and has research experience on the relations between EU Law and Sport.

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