Mickey Mouse falls foul of EU antitrust charge

Six major US film studios, and Sky UK have been charged by the EU on the basis of unfair restriction of content across the European Union.

Competition chief Margrethe Vestager said that the European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of their location in the EU. But according to their investigation, the film studios cannot restrict the content because of the licensing agreements. They believe that these studios might be in breach of the EU competition rules.

Disney, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, NBCUniversal are the six film studios that have been charged by the EU Commission. According to the Commission when the British pay-TV company, Sky UK licenses films from these studio they are required to geo-block access to the content for people who are outside the UK and Ireland, at the time of licensing films. This results in many European citizens being blocked who are in other parts of Europe.

In a press release, a EU spokesperson said that, “The Commission’s preliminary conclusion is that [these] clauses would constitute a serious violation of EU rules that prohibit anticompetitive agreement.”

The Commission is now also investigating other major European broadcasters such as Canal Plus of France, Sky Italia of Italy, and Sky Deutschland of Germany. They say that the Statement of Objections is the first step in a full antitrust suit. But they would require a response from the companies being charged before the suit continues.

This is a part of the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy that plans to boost Europe’s digital economy simply by making it easier for people to access digital content like movies and music from other countries, and for companies to operate easily across borders.

They believe that the customers must be able to access the content if they are paying for it regardless of the licensing agreements within specific countries.

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