Mediaproduccion files for protection

Move is latest skirmish in Spain's soccer war

Spanish media conglom Mediapro is seeking bankruptcy protection from creditors for its contents company, Mediaproduccion, which owns most of the country’s pro-soccer rights.

It’s the latest skirmish in Mediapro’s four-year dispute over La Ligue soccer rights with Sogecable, the TV subsid of rival Spanish media giant Prisa.

In March, a court in Madrid ordered Mediapro to pay Audiovisual Sport, the Sogecable-controlled sports rights firm, Euros104 million ($128.7 million) for breach of contract over the soccer rights — a ruling Mediapro is appealing.

Prisa’s demand for a guarantee of the fine’s payment, should Mediapro lose the appeal, apparently sparked Mediapro’s recourse to bankruptcy protection.

Mediapro alleges Mediaproduccion is in financial difficulty because Sogecable has not yet stumped up some $111 million it owes for selected rights to the first half of the 2010-2011 soccer season.

Mediapro was quick to point out that bankruptcy protection would have no repercussion on its other holdings.

It is a partner with Globomedia in Imagina, the controlling shareholder of commercial broadcaster La Sexta, which airs soccer.

Nor will it affect funding for Woody Allen’s upcoming “Midnight in Paris,” which Mediapro has financed, company sources said.

Mediapro owns TV rights to many of best teams in the Spanish league. It is due to pay soccer giant Real Madrid $72 million July 1, said Adrian Zunzunegui, at Iberian Equities.

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