Media Companies Face Charges for Anti-Competitive Restrictions
In a move that echoes the Digital Single Market agenda, the Commission has issued a Statement of Objections against Sky UK and six US film studios: Disney, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros, for territorial restrictions in their distribution agreements.
These restrictive contractual clauses prevent Sky UK from allowing consumers (who live or travel in the EU) to access any of their services in EU territories outside the UK and Ireland. Services include access to films through online pay-TV services or through satellite pay-TV services. Without the restrictions, Sky UK would be able to sell its pay-TV services to consumers who want access in other EU countries, taking into account the copyright laws of that territory.
The Commission's preliminary position is that these contractual restrictions are anti-competitive as cross-border competition is eliminated and the clauses restrict passive sales, i.e. Sky's ability to accept requests for its pay-TV service in Member States where the service is not being actively promoted. Such restrictions are contrary to the EU antitrust rules and European case law on the matter.
It is now for Sky UK and the six US film studios to respond to the Statement of Objections.