The European Commission charged six American movie studios Thursday with antitrust violations. The commission also charged the leading pay-TV broadcaster in the UK for a similar offense.
Paramount Pictures, NBC Universal, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros and Sony, the commission said, should not sell programs and films on a country-by-country basis, which violates single-market rules in the European Union (EU).
The Commission also accused Sky UK for preventing EU consumers located elsewhere from accessing pay-TV services available in Ireland and the UK via satellite or online. "European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU. ...Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today," the Chicago Tribune quoted EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager as saying.
Vestager said that she was not able to watch Danish TV shows while traveling. The commission vice president for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip, complained that he was not able to watch Estonian football outside the country. According to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the fragmented sales practice is a prime factor holding back the digital economy in Europe, Politico reported.
The Walt Disney Company said in a statement that it would oppose the proposed action by the Commission “vigorously.” It also said that the Commission’s analysis was “destructive of consumer value.” According to the Disney statement, it supports “local creative industries, local digital and broadcast partners, and most important, consumers in every country across the EU.”
The Commission launched the investigation into the studios in 2014. The investigation targeted various companies from Italy, Germany, France and Spain as well. However, those companies were not included in Thursday’s statement.