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E.U. Accepts Sky, Hollywood Studios’ Commitments on Pay-TV Geo-Blocking

The European Union has accepted commitments from Sky and several Hollywood studios over the geo-blocking of movie content.

Exclusivity and territory-specific clauses in deals between Sky U.K. and the studios prevented the pay-TV giant from making content available to consumers in other countries in Europe, and required the studios not to sell their films to other pay-TV services in the U.K. and Ireland.

Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Sky have now agreed to eliminate those clauses in their content deals. E.U. competition authorities said late Thursday that they accepted those concessions, which specifically relate to deals between the studios and Sky in the U.K. but could also apply in the future to other pay-TV operations across Europe.

Theoretically, the decision opens up the European pay-TV market, but Sky insiders said Sky U.K. would not start actively offering its services outside the British Isles. A spokesman for the pay-TV giant said: “Sky considers the commitments offered to be an appropriate and pragmatic solution to a long-running investigation.”

Paramount had already offered similar commitments in 2016 that were accepted by the European Commission, which can levy a fine of up to 10% of revenues if the rules are breached.

The decision settles an investigation into Sky and the studios that has run from 2014. “European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the E.U.,” Margrethe Vestager, the E.U. commissioner in charge of competition policy, said at the time.

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