La Liga’s gaga dispute with radio

After being refused access, radio stations continued to report on matches but from a studio and not from the grounds, as they refused to pay for what they had been previously receiving for free. One argument from the radios was that they could not charge listeners in the same way that the TV channels were doing and so that it was unfair for the LFP to charge for access. The LFP answered saying that apart from Radio Nacional de Espana (RNE) all the stations receive advertising money and so they should pay. In the middle were the football clubs and the fans.

At first, clubs enforced the ruling from the LFP that no radios should be granted access to stadiums and that no player interview or Press conference audio before and after the game could be broadcast if recorded inside the grounds. But, little by little clubs started to turn a blind eye. Initially, some journalists would record conferences and pass them on to the radios. Then, some radios would hide in corners of stadiums and broadcast whilst surrounded by fans with a look-out just in case a LFP employee was around. Clubs then started to allow radios to speak to players but in a hidden location at the ground where they wouldn’t be spotted. One club asked players to sit in their cars with the engine on when speaking on radio as the club could claim that the players were in their car outside the ground when the interview took place and hence the club broke no rules.

Last April the Spanish government stepped into the argument and said that radios had a right to broadcast live at grounds but that they had to pay. The LFP welcomed the opportunity to sit down with the radios and agree a deal that benefited everyone. The radios responded saying that the LFP were not interested in negotiating and had only given one option – pay up or nothing. The fee being asked for was rumoured to be €456,000 for the use of facilities in top-flight grounds. The radios say that the LFP want to negotiate separate individual deals but that is something the radios want to avoid.

The radios also say that the LFP want to charge additional fees for Press conferences and mixed zone interviews and this is something that the radios are furious about. An example that the radios are using as to why this is unfair is Jose Mourinho. Mourinho has a few times during his spell at Real Madrid opted not to attend conferences, preferring to send his second in command, Aitor Karanka. After the Villarreal game last season Mourinho refused to attend any more La Liga conferences and Real Madrid players refused to speak to the Press. The radios ask why they should be forced to pay for something that has no guarantees, something many agree with.

The dispute continues to rumble on and now the RNE have decided to refer the situation to the Telecommunications Commission (CMT) saying that they believe that the negotiations have failed and that an independent body needs to step in. It is believed that other radio stations will refer the situation to the CMT too. Almost a year into the dispute we are still no closer to a solution that will see the radios return. This promises to be a drawn out affair.