Canal Plus, the prominent French pay-TV broadcaster, has lost another court case against the LFP, amid its long-running dispute in which it accused the country’s professional soccer body of abusing a dominant position during its last media rights tender.

Yesterday (September 19), the French Judicial Court rejected Canal Plus’ latest complaints related to the current Ligue 1 domestic rights, which have been through the appeals process without success.

The saga started in June 2021 when Canal Plus attempted to terminate its own sub-licensing agreement with pay-TV rival BeIN Sports to show two Ligue 1 matches per week between 2021-22 and 2023-24 after objecting to the LFP's decision to award online retail giant Amazon rights to the other eight games per match week for a cut-price €250 million ($261 million) annually.

Canal Plus pays €332 million annually to show the best two matches per match week.

Amazon acquired the rights previously held by Mediapro after the agency was forced to terminate its deal in late 2020 while on the edge of insolvency. Mediapro’s four-year deal to show eight games was worth €780 million per annum.

Before Amazon secured the eight games, it was expected that Canal Plus would successfully negotiate an agreement with the LFP – however, this turned out not to be the case, and BeIN then snapped up Canal Plus’ two weekly matches at cost price.

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Canal Plus tried to terminate its deal ahead of the 2021-22 Ligue season but BeIN took legal action against the French broadcaster to ensure the sub-licensing deal for the games was respected. The LFP then joined the legal action to make Canal Plus comply with its contractual obligations.

Canal Plus lost the case and was ordered to fulfill its sub-licensing deal with BeIN or be fined €1.5 million per day for any delay or violation, under the terms of the February 2020 agreement between the two broadcasters.

The pay-TV giant appealed the original argument last year, claiming it had been made to “suffer the consequences of the unfair treatment” by the LFP.  

The latest decision, which confirmed the LFP managed the contract failure of Mediapro and awarding of rights to Amazon fairly, means the LFP has won all of the various legal disputes Canal Plus has brought against it since 2021.

It also comes a week after the LFP launched a new tender for the domestic media rights to the country’s top two divisions, with a new five-year cycle length that it hopes will attract bids of more value than its high reserve prices.

The LFP announced it will offer rights for the 2024-25 to 2028-29 seasons after being granted permission by the French government to extend the length of the contracts from four to five campaigns.

The bid deadline for Ligue 1 rights has been set for October 17, while bids for Ligue 2 rights are required by October 20.

This will be the LFP’s first broadcast rights sales process since agreeing a commercial partnership with private equity group CVC Capital Partners last year.

Through the tie-up, CVC acquired a 13% stake worth €1.5 billion in a media rights subsidiary set up by the LFP – LFP Media – that will market the TV and online broadcast rights for Ligue 1.