Canal+ steps up challenge to French football media rights tender

French pay-television provider Canal+ has launched a second challenge to the Professional Football League (LFP) regarding the bidding process for broadcasting rights.

According to SportBusiness, the challenge was reported in the e Figaro and L’Équipe newspapers, and comes as the LFP prepared to accept first round bids for the media rights this morning.

Canal+ protest has been received by the Autorité de la Concurrence, the French national competition watchdog. The broadcaster alleges that the LFP has conducted anti-competitive discrimination against it, and has called for precautionary measures that would oblige the LFP to launch a new bidding contest.

The firm previously sent a summons to the LFP on 25 January concerning a challenge to the tender process that is due to be held at Paris’ commercial court on 19 February.

Earlier in January President of Canal+, Maxime Saada, cancelled his company’s €330 million rights deal with beIN Media, which saw the former hold exclusive rights to two Ligue 1 matches per week.

Saada has been a prominent critic of the current model of French football broadcasting followed by the LFP, claiming that a pay-per-view system would be more effective due to the overwhelming popularity of games involving major teams such as Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille.

The latest legal challenge could take between four and six months to finalise, and if Canal+ is successful then the LFP will have to launch another tendering process.

Broadcasting rights to French professional football were previously dominated by Mediapro, which provided exclusive coverage of eight Ligue 1 matches per week under the terms of an esteemed €815 million deal from the 2020/21 to 2023/24 season, as well as Ligue 2 matches as part of a €34 million per year agreement.

However, the LFP terminated its contracts with the Barcelona-based agency in December 2020, after the firm failed to pay mandatory fee instalments.

French football has been suffering serious financial consequences ever since, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with losses projected to exceed €1.3 billion.