Pubcasters, Mediapro score soccer rights

Deal covers three seasons, beginning in 2009

MADRID -- Spain's national and regional pubcasters have snatched up broadcasting rights for the European Champions League soccer matches for three seasons beginning next year, with private channels immediately crying foul.

In a related move, media powerhouse Mediapro said it has acquired rights for the live broadcast of 14 Champions League matches during the same seasons for the new pay-per-view soccer channel it expects to launch this year.

In a press release Saturday, Spain's government-owned TVE and Forta, which groups regional pubcasters, said they had purchased the rights from UEFA for the 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

No financial details of the agreements were made public, but Spanish press reports speculated that TVE probably paid about 30 million euros ($47.7 million) while Forta came up with 35 million euros ($55.6 million).

In response to the announcement, Spain's private channels -- Telecinco, Antena 3, La Sexta, Veo TV and Net TV -- complained of the pubcasters' "unlimited capacity to offer, with public money, astronomical figures which we cannot match."

Firing back, TVE said that the Champions League "wouldn't cost the public one euro."