Spanish clubs fined for TV rights breach
Barcelona forward Neymar da Silva Santos Junior kicks a ball watched by Lionel Messi during a match in Barcelona on November 6, 2013
The National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) handed out fines totalling 15 million euros ($20 million) for "a very serious infraction" of the rules on the acquisition of football-related rights, it said in a statement.
Television production giant Mediapro was fined 6.5 million euros, while Real Madrid were ordered to pay 3.9 million euros and Barcelona 3.6 million euros.
The regulator also fined Sevilla 900,000 euros and Racing Santander 30,000 euros.
It said the clubs all signed four-year contracts with Mediapro to broadcast their domestic league and cup matches, when the maximum duration of such a deal was limited to three years by competition law.
Current joint league-leaders Barcelona said they would appeal the ruling at Spain's National Court. They have two months to do so.
The club said in a statement late Monday that the contract it signed with Mediapro respected the law and "has not practically affected the audiovisual market".
"Before presenting its appeal, the club will have to pay the penalty or underwrite the amount, which will have an economic impact on it this season," the Barcelona statement added.
However "a favourable resolution in future court proceedings will involve the money being paid back" to the club, it added.
According to a table put together by the consultancy firm Deloitte, Real Madrid became the first sports club in the world to earn more than 500 million euros in 2011-12.
Barcelona were named as the world's second richest club on the same list with income of 483 million euros.
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 vastly superior sums compared to the rest of the country.
Spanish football was for years marred by a television rights war. A number of clubs struck deals with Mediapro while others entered into partnership with Sogecable, part of Spain's biggest media group Prisa, the owners of the subscription channel Canal+.