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7/24/15

Communications - Geo-Blocking: EU opens antitrust case against 6 major US movie studios - by Raf Casert

The European Union on Thursday launched an antitrust case against six major U.S. movie studios and British satellite broadcaster Sky UK, in a move that could profoundly shake up the highly lucrative pay-television market in Europe.

The EU's executive Commission has sent a so-called statement of objections to the companies regarding what it says are "contractual restrictions" preventing EU consumers outside Britain and Ireland from accessing the services of Sky UK.

"European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU," EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said. "Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today."

The companies involved are all household names and produce some of the most popular — and profitable — movies around.

In addition to Sky, which has cornered a large chunk of the British pay-TV market through its acquisition of sports and movie rights, the Commission sent its objections to NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Disney and Warner Bros.

In a statement, the Commission said it found clauses requiring Sky to block access to films through its online or satellite pay-TV services to consumers outside Britain and Ireland — so-called "geo-blocking."

Note EU-Digest: Good action by EU Commission. Private sector should keep hands-off prohibiting free-choice of consumers in every area, including cultural expressions and presentations. 

Read more: EU opens antitrust case against 6 major US movie studios - The Denver Post

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