Rights no shoe-in

Mexican soccer broadcast rights probed

MEXICO CITY — Federal government antitrust authorities have stepped in to investigate the awarding of broadcast rights for the Mexican national soccer team games to Televisa.

The rights cover the Copa America and World Cup qualifiers and other games in which the national team participates. They exclude the World Cup finals, the Latino rights to which are held by Television Iberoamericana (OTI) and shared equally in Mexico by Televisa and rival TV Azteca.

On Aug. 3, the Mexican Federal Competition Commission (CFC) published in the federal register a notice — dated July 22 — of the investigation of “alleged monopolistic practices” regarding the broadcast rights — and the ability to sell ad time during those games.

The Mexican Soccer Federation (FMF) renewed its four-year contract with Televisa in July, maintaining that no other parties were interested. Televisa owns three soccer teams and has a major presence in the group.

However, TV Azteca had sent two letters in February and early March to the FMF in which it expressed its desire to submit a formal offer for the rights, sources at Azteca said, adding that the broadcaster had proposed a public auction for them.

Televisa reportedly paid $7 million four years ago; the amount of the new contract has not been disclosed.

According to local press reports, the federation has formed an internal commission to review the contract and its award.

Repeated phone calls to Televisa were not returned.

TV Azteca CFO Adrian Steckel declined comment.

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