The European Union's antitrust watchdog is investigating whether major U.S. film studios' practice of selling rights to European pay TV broadcasters for only one country at a time is hurting competition.
The studios typically demand clauses in their contracts with European pay TV broadcasters limiting film rights to only their home country, rather than across the EU's 28 states. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said Monday it is investigating the legality of such clauses.
"Such provisions might constitute an infringement of EU antitrust rules," said Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, the bloc's antitrust chief. "More and more European citizens watch films, use pay TV services broadcast by satellite and increasingly available through online streaming," he told reporters in Brussels.
The probe covers Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. studio, Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal, Viacom Inc.'s More