Vodafone files complaint as Telefónica targets its TV base

Vodafone has filed a complaint with Spanish markets regulator the CNMC alleging that, by offering free football for the 2018-19 season, Telefónica’s Movistar+ service is taking advantage of its dominant position in the TV sector to reinforce its position in the fibre access market.

According to business news title Expansión, citing unnamed sources, Vodafone Spain has complained to the regulator that by offering football free as part of the Movistar Fusión multiplay package, Telefónica is in breach of obligations imposed on it because it is the dominant player in the audiovisual market.

Vodafone is arguing that Telefónica is taking advantage of its position in the audiovisual market to strengthen its position in fibre access – a separate market in which it is also the dominant player.

The operator also alleges that Telefónica is making direct offers by phone with 50% discounts to attract its subscribers specifically – along with those of northern Spanish cable operator Euskaltel, which, like Vodafone, does not have a comprehensive football offer. Vodafone’s case is that the combination of these practices implies a policy of ‘retaliatory pricing’ aimed specifically at its business as well as leveraging a dominant position in one market to reinforce a dominant position in another.

Vodafone is the only major Spanish operator not to sign a deal with Telefónica to include the best of top-tier Spanish and international football in its TV offering for the coming season, leaving the field clear for Movistar and Orange. Vodafone is providing a limited football offering that does not include the El Partizado or Liga de Campeones channels.

Telefónica maintains that its offering is line with normal marketing practices at the start of the football season and that it has not specifically targeted Vodafone subscribers more than those of other providers.

Movistar+ launched an aggressive marketing campaign for its football offering last week, providing its entire premium football line-up  including the Spanish second division La Liga 1|2|3 channel it recently added, to customers at no extra cost until January.