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Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Producer Mediapro Fined Over Soccer Rights

The fines total 15 million euros and include other teams in the Spanish League.

MADRID -- Spain’s National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) has imposed significant fines on Spanish television production titan Mediapro and four clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, for breaching rules on the sale of television rights.

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The CNMC handed down fines totaling $20.3 million for what they described in a statement as “a very serious infraction” of the rules on the acquisition of football-related rights instituted in April 2010. Mediapro was fined €6.5 million ($8.8 million), while Real Madrid has been ordered to pay €3.9 million ($5.3 million) and Barcelona €3.6 million ($4.9 million). Smaller teams were also found guilty, with Sevilla fined €900,000($1.2 million) and Racing Santander €30,000 ($41,000).

The clubs all signed four-year contracts with Mediapro to broadcast their domestic league and cup matches, when the legal maximum duration of suchs deals is limited to three years. They explained that the size of the fine varied depending on the individual contracts signed between Mediapro and the respective clubs.

Real Madrid became the first sports club in the world to earn more than €500 million ($679 million) in 2011-12, according to consultancy firm Deloitte, which also named Barcelona the world's second richest club, with income of €483 million ($656 million).

Unlike in other European countries, there is no collective television rights deal for clubs in Spain. Instead, clubs negotiate their own deals with broadcasters, a situation that allows Barcelona and Real Madrid to earn disproportionately large amounts compared to the rest of the league’s teams.

Mediapro said in a statement it would appeal the decision, arguing that it was following May 2010 General Audiovisual Law that allowed contracts on soccer rights to extend for up to four years.

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“Given the disproportionate nature of the sanction and that Mediapro acted at all times in good faith, Mediapro understands that the sanction goes against the basic principles of judicial order,” the company said in a statement.

In 2012, the Spanish National Court ruled that contracts prior to the 2010 CNMC ruling that were deemed harmful to free competition would not be respected.