Partial outcome for soccer broadcasting rights' investigation

CADE decided this week, during its 478th Ordinary Session, to partially shelve a 13 year-long investigation involving soccer broadcasting rights. The shelving benefits one of the Defendants, Organizações Globo, one of the main Midia Groups in Brazil.

The investigation, initiated in 1997, concerned exclusivivity and preference rights in connection to the television broadcasting of soccers games.

During CADE's 477th Session held in October 20, 2010, CADE's Board decided to suspend the investigation against both Organizações Globo and Clube dos Treze (the major association of soccer teams in Brazil), conditioned to the execution of two Consent Decrees. Other defendants were acquitted.

The Consent Decree with Globo states that the Group will waive its preference to acquire broadcasting rights in connection to the main Brazilian soccer championships, as of the next season. As per the Decree executed with the team's Association, it says that the rights will be subject to negotiations between owners (the teams' Associations, especially Clube dos Treze) and potential buyers. Clube dos Treze agreed to offer and negotiate separately the rights to exhibit soccer games in five different Midias: free-to-air television, general pay television, pay-per-view channels, Internet and mobile devices. It also agreed to provide objective and transparent criteria for the biddings related to broadcasting rights and to allow the acquirer of the rights to freely sublicense them.

CADE's decision for the execution of Consent Decrees was not unanimous. CADE's President Arthur Badin, whose mandate expires this week, considered the obligations foreseen in the Decrees insufficient to guarantee the competition in the offer of broadcasting rights. However, all 6 Commissioners, including the Reporting Commissioner Cesar Mattos, were convinced that the Consent Decrees were the most suitable way to end the long administrative litigation and also that rights’ purchasers would have incentives to denounce restrictive behavior directly to CADE, during the monitoring phase of the Consent Decrees.

The investigation against Organizações Globo has now been shelved, since the Group demonstrated that it has already renounced to its contractual rights (preference clauses).

CADE will monitor the behavior of Clube dos Treze during the next 5 years, after which the case against it shall be shelved (unless irregularities - such as systematic refusals to deal - are verified by CADE).

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