EU: Commission commences antitrust proceedings into film distribution

The European Commission (the “Commission”) has initiated formal antitrust proceedings to assess various licensing agreements between European Pay-TV broadcasters and major US Film studios for broadcasting by satellite or through online streaming. The Commission will evaluate the extent to which provisions within such licensing agreements that grant “absolute territorial protection” may constitute an infringement of EU antitrust rules prohibiting anti-competitive agreements (Article 101 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). The investigation is limited to deals with the major film studios and does not extend to agreements for other content such as sport.

The proceedings follow the announcement in December 2013 of a public consultation (which closes on 5 February 2014) on the review of EU copyright rules.