LaLiga fined for denying Mediaset access to matches
The CNMC, the Spanish competition authority, has today fined Spanish soccer’s LaLiga €250,000 ($279,000) for refusing to allow commercial broadcaster Mediaset España to provide news coverage of several rounds of fixtures last season.
The regulator has ruled that the Spanish soccer league was “responsible for a serious administrative infraction” as it violated an article of the General Law of Audiovisual Communication by denying access of the cameras of Mediaset channels Telecinco and Cuatro to matches in the top flight in rounds 24 and 25 and games in the second-tier Segunda División in round 27 of the 2016-17 campaign.
The fixtures took place in either late-February or early-March.
Acting on a complaint from Mediaset, the CNMC acknowledged that the ban was limited to access to the pitch and that the broadcaster was able to record footage in the press room and the mixed zone, but that the resolution of January 2016 covering “events of general interest to society” was still contravened.
LaLiga, which has yet to respond to the ruling, can appeal against the sanction by taking its case to the Audencia Nacional, the Spanish high court, within the next two months.
The league excluded the Mediaset cameras on the grounds that the company had been breaching rules on the broadcasting of clips of matches by showing more than 90 seconds of highlights from each fixture and not adhering to the 24-hour window after a game has finished.
LaLiga took similar action against Atresmedia, another commercial network.
When the CNMC opened proceedings against LaLiga in March, the league defended its stance, expressing "its surprise at the systematic adoption of precautionary measures against it for attempting to protect its competition from systematic and unpunished violations” of the articles.
Mediaset first filed a complaint with the CNMC in September 2015 after its cameras were refused entry into various LaLiga grounds as it continued to air well over 90 seconds of highlights coverage in its news programmes.
LaLiga claimed at the time that Mediaset was refusing to abide by the terms of an auction which gave TVE, the public-service broadcaster, exclusive highlights rights to all league matches in the 2015-16 season in a €12-million ($13.6-million) deal.
In January 2016, the CNMC ruled that LaLiga was breaching national news access rights by barring access to Mediaset. It decided that the company should be allowed into club stadia to film highlights, and that it should be allowed to broadcast 90 seconds of coverage, free of charge, per match, a time it considers “sufficient and adequate to protect the rights to information of all Spanish citizens”.
TVE cancelled its contract a month later.
However, ahead of the 2016-17 season, TVE agreed a three-year sub-licensing deal with Mediapro, the Spanish sports rights agency, for LaLiga and Copa del Rey highlights. It is now permitted to show 12 minutes from all league and cup matches.