The European Union on Thursday filed an antitrust suit against six American movie companies, including Disney and Warner Bros, as well as the British satellite broadcaster Sky UK, alleging the firms purposely prevented consumers’ access to their products.
The executive commission sent out a statement about the companies alleged “contractural restrictions” that keep customers outside of Britain and Ireland from accessing Sky’s full services, the Associated Press reported.
“European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU,” EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, AP reported. “Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today.”
The other companies named in the complaint include NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony and Twentieth Century Fox.
The commission began investigating the seven companies in early 2014 and found that Sky UK was required by contract to block online and satellite access to the filmmakers’ movies at spots outside of Britain and Ireland, AP said. This “geo-blocking” is illegal, the EU alleged.
“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. “We believe that this may be in breach of EU competition rules.”
The named firms have yet to respond.