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Spanish Regulator to Probe U.S. Studios Over Possible Anti-Competitive Practices

Spanish antitrust regulator, the National Commission of Markets and Competition, has launched an 18-month probe into possible anti-competitive practices by the local distribution branches of Hollywood studios Disney, Sony, Warner Bros., Fox, Universal and Paramount, as well as local companies providing digital services and exhibitors.

The antitrust body said it was investigating 14 companies “for possible restrictive practices of competition in the film distribution market.” It said the companies were suspected of having struck an agreement to share sensitive information provided in part by the the audience measurement company Rentrak.

Such practices also “consist of the agreement between the big distributors and the integrating company Ymagis to standardize their commercial policies,” the commission (CNMC) said.

The CNMC said agreements between competitors constitute a “very serious violation of competition law” and “can lead to fines of up to 10% of the total turnover of the offending companies.”

The commission said that the investigation is one of its priorities, “given the particular gravity of its consequences on  consumers” and on the proper functioning of the Spanish distribution market.

Earlier this week, the CNMC imposed a €1.5 million fine on Movistar for overcharging its competitors for El Partidazo, the premium service which airs the biggest football matches on a weekly basis.

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