The European Union has launched an anti-trust case against pay TV platform Sky and the six major Hollywood studios, arguing that customers across Europe should have access to Sky’s services in the UK and Ireland. Disney, NBC Universal, Warner Bros, Paramount, Sony and 20th Century Fox are all named in the action.
“European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU, said E.U. competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement. “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…We believe this may be a breach of EU competition rules.”
The question of geoblocking content was at the heart of a battle earlier summer over the E.U.’s attempts to break down the license barriers between individual Europan countries to create a single Eurozone for IP, including film rights. Those moves were denounced by many in the film business, who said it threatened to destroy the European independent film financing model overnight.
The case will look into contractual restrictions that prevent Sky UK from allowing EU customers located elsewhere to access pay TV services in the UK and Ireland.
The European Commission is also investigating similar cases with other Euro pay TV channels, including Canal Plus in France, Sky Italia in Italy, Sky Deutschland in Germany and DTS in Spain.