UNE accuses DirecTV of monopolising football rights

Juan Fernandez Gonzalez | 05-02-2014

Colombia's UNE has accused DirecTV of monopolising football broadcasting rights in the country, leaving most of the market without access to live matches.

The telco is waiting to see how the broadcasting rights to Brazil's World Cup – one of the most important events of the year – will be handled by DirecTV. Marc Eichmann, UNE-EPM's president is calling for a regulation to share out the football rights in a different way.

In an interview with the financial newspaper La República, Eichmann says that 90% of the pay-TV market won't have access to all the World Cup matches. UNE-EPM, through RCN and Caracol, will have access to 32 of the 64 matches, but the other matches will only be broadcast in Colombia by DirecTV.

The conflict between UNE and DirecTV also affects the merger between the Colombian telco and Millicom, against which the satellite company has presented several complaints. According to Eichmann, the process is moving forward and will place UNE-Millicom as the second largest telco in the country, only topped by Claro.

Despite the competition issues, UNE achieved strong results last year. Thanks to the deployment of 4G and a stronger brand positioning, UNE-EPM's income grew by 10% in 2013. The company intends to keep up this trend in 2014, when it expects to grow over 16% and also aims to invest nearly $270 million to improve infrastructure and customer service.