Formal antitrust complaints have been filed against six major Hollywood studios along with U.K.-based Sky TV. BBC News reports that the European Commission is accusing the companies of blocking access to movie content in some European Union countries in violation of EU competition rules.
The six U.S. studios are Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.
“The complaint follows an 18-month investigation by the European Commission into licensing agreements between the film studios and Sky, as well as other European broadcasters,” the BBC reports. “The Commission believes the deals have clauses that grant absolute territorial exclusivity to Sky and eliminate cross border competition between pay-TV companies elsewhere in the EU.”
The report quotes a statement from Disney in response to the complaint that says: “Our approach is one that supports local creative industries, local digital and broadcast partners and most importantly consumers in every country across the EU. The impact of the Commission’s analysis is destructive of consumer value and we will oppose the proposed action vigorously.”
A report by Reuters notes: “The Commission is seeking to overhaul the continent’s digital market to boost growth and catch up with the United States and Africa. Moves involve ending mobile roaming charges and reforming copyright rules to widen access to online audiovisual content.”
In a statement, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU. Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because licensing agreements between the major film studios and Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky’s UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online.”