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euro news_news 14/08/2015 09:23 Page 1 EC competition probe for Sky, Hollywood studios he European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections - a formal step in its investigations into suspected violations of EU antitrust rules - to Sky UK and six major US film studios: Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. The Commission takes the preliminary view that each of the six studios and Sky UK have bilaterally agreed to put in place contractual restrictions that prevent Sky UK from allowing EU consumers located elsewhere to access, via satellite or online, pay-TV services available in the UK and Ireland. According to the EC, without these restrictions, Sky UK would be free to decide on commercial grounds whether to sell its pay-TV services to such consumers requesting access to its services, taking into account the regulatory framework including, as regards online pay-TV services, the relevant national copyright laws. If the Commission’s preliminary position were to be confirmed, each of the companies would have breached EU competition rules prohibiting anti-competitive agreements. The sending of a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or T TVPlayer launches pay OTT With the aim of providing an alternative pay-TV option to Sky, BT TV and Virgin Media, UK over-the-top television platform TVPlayer is launching subscription service TVPlayer Plus. TVPlayer Plus will be priced from £4.99 (€7.05) per month (with no contract) and enables live streaming of 25+ premium television channels, Additional channels are expected to be announced. The current TVPlayer service, which offers over 55 free-to-air channels and has 6 EUROMEDIA travel in the EU. Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because 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. European broadcasters (Canal Plus of France, Sky Italia of Italy, Sky Deutschland of Germany and DTS of Spain). The Commission continues to examine cross-border access to pay-TV services in these Member States. Some of the six major film studios named by the EC responded to the EC’s ‘Statement of Objections’, with Disney saying the impact of the Commission’s analysis was “destructive of consumer value”, and confirming it would oppose the proposed action vigorously. “Our approach is one that supports local creative industries, local digital and broadcast partners and most importantly consumers in every country across the EU,” it contended. “We are cooperating fully with the European Commission’s investigation,” commented a Warner Bros. spokesperson, adding that it was “premature” to comment further at this time. Similarly, NBCUniversal confirmed that it had received the notice and would “respond and cooperate” with the European Commission. Fox, Sony and Paramount declined to comment. “The European Commission is examining cross border access to pay TV services across a number of member states. As part of its ongoing enquiry, we have received a statement setting out the commission’s preliminary views. We will consider this and respond in due course,” Sky said in a statement. “Consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they are in the EU. The studios and Sky UK now have the chance to respond to our concerns,” she advised. The Commission’s preliminary conclusion is that, in the absence of convincing justification, clauses granting ‘absolute territorial exclusivity’ to Sky UK and/or other broadcasters eliminate cross-border competition between pay-TV broadcasters and partition the internal market along national borders, constituting a serious violation of EU rules that prohibit anticompetitive agreements. The Commission previously also set out concerns as regards licensing agreements between the film studios and other major over 500,000 regular users, will remain free of charge, although TVPlayer Plus subscribers will benefit from an enhanced viewing experience. TVPlayer is already available on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Mac and PC. Additional devices available at the launch of TVPlayer Plus will include selected Smart TVs, the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Google Chromecast. TVPlayer expects to announce its availability on additional Internet-connected devices later in the year, including on a prominent games console. An app for Windows Phone is also in development. UKTV channels will be limited to iOS, Android and PC. TVPlayer is the first major OTT platform in the UK to combine an ad-supported basic pack with optional pay packs, with over 100 channels in total. Adam Smith, founder and CEO of live streaming service Simplestream, the company behind TVPlayer, noted that TVPlayer had seen significant success to date with over half a million people now watching TV over-the-top each week on its service. “Similar to what Netflix has done for movies and Spotify for music, TVPlayer Plus aims to offer a simplified viewing experience of traditional and premium television content; one which works with the devices you already have and lets you pause, modify or cancel your subscription whenever you l