The studios — Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony, Fox and Warner Bros. — and Sky will attend a closed-door hearing on Jan. 18-19 to address the charge, according to a Reuters report citing three sources. The meeting is likely to be attended by senior EC officials, anti-trust regulators and rival companies.
In July, the EC, which is the executive branch of the European Union, claimed that the studios and Sky were anti-competitive because movies and TV shows licensed to Sky were not available to Sky subscribers when they were outside the U.K.
“European consumers want to watch the pay TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the European Union. Our EU antitrust investigation shows that they cannot do this today,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition, said at the time. “We believe that this may be in breach of EU competition rules.”
The EC 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 move chimes with the EC’s Digital Single Market strategy. Its view is that subscribers to a service in one country should be able to access that service when traveling abroad in the EU. The EC move undermines the principle of territoriality, which underpins the licensing of TV shows and movies worldwide.