The French court considering Canal+’s case against the country’s professional football league over the re-auction of rights to Ligue 1 has ruled in favour of the LFP and against the pay TV operator.
Canal+ had taken action after the LFP refused to re-auction all the rights it had previously granted for the 2021-24 seasons rather than only those rights returned by Spanish broadcaster and producer Mediapro after the latter failed to maintain payments it had committed too.
The Vivendi-owned pay TV operator had been seeking to reduce the amount it previously agreed to pay from sub-licensing ‘lot 3’ rights to top-tier French football from its partner beIN Sports. Canal+ agreed to pay an estimated €332 million a year for the rights.
The Tribunal de Commerce de Paris however ruled that the league was justified in only putting the rights previously held by Mediapro up for auction.
The court said that the LFP’s refusal to include the lot 3 rights in the new auction did not have an adverse impact on competition.
Canal+ said it would appeal the ruling and would continue to pursue a separate complaint filed with the country’s competition regulator, the Autorité de la Concurrence.
“Canal+ Group continues to believe that any call for candidates that excludes lot 3, currently exploited by Canal+ Group, would constitute an abuse of the LFP’s dominant position by creating discriminatory transaction conditions between potential bidders,” said the pay TV operator.
The outfit said it was determined to see its rights valued in a way that avoided a situation where discriminatory pricing produced “deep inequalities of treatment between distributors of Ligue 1 Uber Eats in the future”.
Canal+ and the league agreed an interim deal last month covering matches to the end of the current season for Ligue 1. The court noted that the pay TV operator had seen fit to sign a direct deal with the league without an auction, and had not considered this to have an impact on competition.
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