Six major U.S. movie studios, including Disney and Warner Bros, and British satellite broadcaster Sky UK are in the middle of an antitrust case launched by the European Union for restricting access across the 28-country bloc. The executive Commission which assesses antitrust matters for the EU released a statement Thursday that said it has sent a statement of objections to the companies regarding “contractual restrictions” that prevent Sky from offering their full services to consumers beyond Britain and Ireland.
The complete list of companies mentioned in the statement is NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony and Twentieth Century Fox as well as Disney, Warner Bros. and Sky UK. EU 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.”
In January 2014 the Commission opened an initial probe into the seven companies and their territorial contracts and found clauses requiring Sky UK to block access to films through its online or satellite pay-TV services to consumers outside Britain and Ireland which is often called “geo-blocking.”
Vestager elaborated on the breach by saying
“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. We believe that this may be in breach of EU competition rules.”
The firms included in the statement now have the right to respond. However there is no legal deadline for the Commission to complete antitrust inquiries.
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