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EU to probe American film licensing to pay-TV firms

Published on Jan 13, 2014 9:18 PM

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The EU launched a probe on Monday into licensing arrangements by the major US film studios which may prevent European pay-TV operators from showing their movies in more than one country.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said it will investigate whether this means the operators have to refuse "potential subscribers from other member states or (block) cross-border access to their services".

The Commission cited agreements between several major US film studies - Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal and Paramount Pictures - and the largest European pay-TV broadcasters such as Britain's BSkyB, France's Canal Plus, Sky Italia of Italy, Sky Deutschland and DTS of Spain.

US films are licensed to pay-TV companies "on an exclusive and territorial basis, ie typically to a single pay-TV broadcaster in each member state" or collectively to those sharing a common language, the Commission said.

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