Football TV war breaks out in Spain
From David Del Valle in Madrid

A new football TV conflict has broken out in Spain between Canal Plus and Mediapro, main shareholder in La Sexta, over broadcast rights.

Canal+, owned by Prisa, said that Mediapro’s decision to call an auction for La Liga TV rights was “illegal” as it included clubs who it says have signed exclusive deals with Canal+ for the next three seasons.

The broadcaster, which says it will take legal action to defend its interests, cites a Spanish court ruling that limited rights contracts to three years and which it said nullified some of Mediapro’s deals.

“In that sense, and due to the lack of a framework to exploit TV rights three weeks before the beginning of La Liga, Canal+ intends to maintain and renew each season its commitment to its clients to offer the best matches,” Canal+ said in a statement carried in Spanish media.

“Furthermore, it reiterates its desire to continue working to find the best framework for the 2012-13 season and underlines the need to bring the situation back to normal as soon as possible,” the statement added.

The conflict between both broadcasters may delay the start of La Liga on August 18th although the LFP, which represents the 42 professional clubs in Spain’s top two divisions, said the start of the La Liga season was not under threat.

Mediapro claims to be open to offers from broadcasters for rights for first and second division matches for this season and the following season.

“Mediapro is the owner of almost all the audiovisual rights for teams competing in the first and second division for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons,” it said in a statement.