EU to investigate Hollywood studios over pay-TV licensing deals for possibly breaking antitrust laws

By Daniel S Levine,

Several of the major Hollywood studios are being investigated by the European Union over possible antitrust violations with their pay-TV licensing deals.

The EU’s European Commission, which looks into antitrust violations, said Monday that it is looking at the studios’ practice of requiring pay-TV broadcasters to only show their content in the European country for their base of operations, notes Reuters. For example, if 21st Century Fox has a deal with a broadcaster based in France, that broadcaster cannot air the movie in Italy. The EU has worked to make sure that content is available to all citizens in member states.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the probe specifically deals with BSkyB in the U.K., which Fox owns 39 percent of; Vivendi’s Canal Plus in France; Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, both owned by Fox; and DTS in Spain. These networks all have licensing deals with studios like Fox, Warner Bros., Universal and Paramount.

“The provisions granting absolute territorial protection ensure that the films licensed by the U.S. studios are shown exclusively in the member state where each broadcaster operates via satellite and the Internet,” the European Commission said in a statement. “These films cannot be made available outside that member state, even in response to unsolicited requests from potential subscribers.”

If the EU rules that the studios and these networks violated the antitrust laws, they could face hefty fines and be required to change their business models. The Commission didn’t say when its investigation would be completed.

image: Wikimedia Commons



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