Portuguese Football League (LPFP) president Mario Figueiredo has said that the organisation will appeal to the European Commission if the country’s media regulator, the ERC, refuses to block a proposed deal for telecommunications company Portugal Telecom to acquire a 25% stake in pay-television broadcaster Sport TV.
Figueiredo said that the move would further strengthen the “dominant” position of the Olivedesportos agency, which is controlled by businessman Joaquim Oliveira, who is also a co-owner of Sport TV. Figueiredo believes that the deal would reduce competition for the Primeira Liga’s rights – which he is hoping to centralise – with Portugal Telecom set to join the Zon Multimedia and Sportinveste media companies as a shareholder in Sport TV. Figueiredo had highlighted a change to the Primeira Liga’s TV rights model as a key target when he was elected to power last year. The LPFP president is seeking to centralise the Liga’s television rights in a bid to encourage greater financial equality amongst its clubs.
“This (centralisation of rights) will only happen if the ERC opposes this merger of Portugal Telecom and Zon for Sport TV,” he told the A Bola news website. “There is no use centralising the rights if we only have one possible buyer that exercises a monopoly and makes the rules.” He added: “Joaquim Oliveira has a monopoly position in the market for acquiring television rights from clubs, and he has a substantial shareholding (in Sport TV) at the same time.”
Figueiredo said he is expecting a law to be introduced through parliament to switch the rights model from the current club-by-club approach to a centralised process that is “similar to Italy.”