Magazine article Screen International

EC to Probe Studios' Pay-TV Deals

Magazine article Screen International

EC to Probe Studios' Pay-TV Deals

Article excerpt

Hollywood's five major studios' licensing agreements with leading European pay TV operators such as the UK's BSkyB and France's Canal+ are to be investigated by the European Commission (EC).

EC Commissioner for Competition Policy Joaquín Almunia said the investigation would investigate the "restrictions" in agreements between film studios and pay-TV broadcasters that grant "absolute territorial exclusivity".

It will focus on the biggest European broadcasters: BSkyB in the UK, Sky Italia in Italy, Vivendi's Canal+ in France, Sky Deutschland in Germany and DTS in Spain.

Film studios that will be probed include 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, NBC Universal and Paramount.

Speaking about the current "restrictions", Almunia said: "Such provisions ensure that the films licensed by the US studios are shown exclusively in the Member State where each broadcaster operates via satellite and the internet. They prevent access by subscribers who are located outside the licensed territory."

"If you subscribe to a pay-TV service in Germany and you go to Italy for holidays, you may not be able to view the films offered by that service from your laptop during your holidays.

"Similarly, if you live in Belgium and want to subscribe to a Spanish pay-TV service, you may not be able to subscribe at all if there is absolute territorial exclusivity. …

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