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European Union Launches Anti-Trust Case Against Sky, Hollywood Studios

LONDON — The European Union has launched an anti-trust case against pay TV operator Sky and six major Hollywood studios.

The EU argues that consumers from across Europe should be allowed access to Sky’s pay TV services in the U.K. and Ireland.

“European consumers want to watch the pay TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU. Our EU economy internet antitrust investigation shows that they cannot do this today,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition. “We believe that this may be in breach of EU competition rules.”

The studios named in the action are Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, “takes the preliminary view that each of the six studios and Sky UK have bilaterally agreed to put in place contractual restrictions that prevent Sky UK from allowing EU consumers located elsewhere to access pay TV services available in the U.K. and Ireland.”

The European Commission added that it was also looking at similar cases involving other pay TV providers, including Canal Plus in France, Sky Italia in Italy, Sky Deutschland in Germany and DTS in Spain.

The case will look in particular at the fact that Sky’s subscribers in the U.K. and Ireland cannot access the platform’s films and TV shows from outside those countries. This suggests that the European Commission is pressing to bring about the portability stated as an objective in its Digital Single Market strategy. Its view is that paid subscribers to a service in one country should be able to access that service when traveling abroad in the EU. That may be more enforceable than making Sky programming available across the whole of the EU.

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