European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager has stepped up efforts against several Hollywood studios, arguing their streaming and licensing policies do not respect the EU's single trading bloc. Vestager has moved forward with efforts to sue Sky, Walt Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. for billions of euros, the Financial Times reported Sunday.
“I, for one, cannot understand why I can watch my favorite Danish channels on my tablet in Copenhagen — a service I paid for — but I can’t when I am in Brussels,” she said last year.
The antitrust case centers on whether studios can limit where their content is licensed across the 28-country EU trading bloc or whether they can prevent people from buying content based on where their IP address is. In particular, the EU commissioner has argued companies cannot prevent customers in continental Europe from purchasing streamed content available in the U.K. or Ireland.
“Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because licensing agreements between the major film studios and Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky’s UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online,” Vestager said in July 2015 when the case was first opened.
If the EU commissioner wins the case, each studio would have to pay fines of up to 10 percent of the previous year’s fiscal turnover, amounting to several billion euros per company.
Since her appointment to the position, Vestager has not hesitated in going after some of the largest companies in the world, including Microsoft. “Vestager is more interested than Almunia was in policy, and clearly in online and tech issues,” Sven Volker, an anti-trust lawyer, told Politico, comparing Vestager to predecessor Joaquin Almunia.