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EU opens antitrust case against US film studios

The European Union has opened an antitrust case against six major US film studios for preventing British broadcaster Sky from showing their products outside the UK and Ireland.

The EU Commission, which assesses antitrust matters for the 28-country EU, said today it has sent a statement of objections to Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros regarding "contractual restrictions" that prevent Sky offering its full services to consumers in other EU nations.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that "European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU".

The Commission opened a probe into the seven companies and their territorial contracts in January 2014 and found clauses requiring Sky UK to block access to films through its online or satellite pay-TV services to consumers outside Britain and Ireland - so-called "geo-blocking".

Ms Vestager added: "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.

"We believe that this may be in breach of EU competition rules."

The firms named now have the right to respond.

There is no legal deadline for the Commission to complete antitrust inquiries.

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