The CNMC, the Spanish competition regulator, has called on domestic soccer’s top-flight LaLiga to refrain from excluding free-to-air (FTA) broadcasters in the marketing of its television rights going forward.

In its latest recommendation, the CNMC said its request centers around the top league’s awarding of broadcasting rights packages domestically from the 2024-25 season onwards.

Mediapro, the sports media agency, holds domestic FTA rights to LaLiga in an agreement running from 2022-23 to 2024-25 worth slightly less than €14 million ($14.7 million). Under that deal, Mediapro broadcasts one free match per round through its FTA channel Gol, as well as highlights.

In a ruling published yesterday (December 18), the CNMC said LaLiga must run an award process that “respects the standards of transparency, competence and non-discrimination” after finding some of the league’s tender conditions do not comply with the requirements laid out by the Royal Decree-Law 5/2015.

Specifically, the watchdog cited two bundles of rights, one with five matches per week and one with three single match days covering 10 fixtures from the 2024-25 to 2026-27 season for customers in Spain and Andorra.

Along with the inclusion of FTA broadcasters, the CNMC has requested LaLiga use “objective criteria that can be assessed as far as possible by means of formulas, increasing certainty for operators” and limiting discretionary decisions made by LaLiga, such as reserve prices and the extra weighing for certain offers based on technical-professional criteria.

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The CNMC has also urged LaLiga to clearly and precisely define the content of the rights on offer, not include restrictions linked to the advertising and publicity of successful bidders, and not imply that it owns and freely disposes of rights that are not granted to it by Royal Degree-Law 2/2015. It has, in addition, asked the league to adhere to the joint marketing of the audiovisual rights included in the scope of the regulation.

Main domestic live TV rights to LaLiga are held by telecoms giant Telefonica and global sports streaming platform DAZN in five-year deals running from 2022-23 to 2026-27 worth a total of €4.95 billion and an average €990 million per season.

Under those deals, Telefonica shows five fixtures each match week through its Movistar Plus streaming service, while DAZN airs the other five fixtures. Movistar Plus also has exclusive rights across three full match weeks.