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EU probe could let Sky Movies customers to stream films in Europe

Sky Movies subscribers could get access to channels through Sky Go or on satellite in Europe, as a result of an EU investigation. 

The EC (European Commission) will look at licencing deals between Hollywood studios and European pay-TV broadcasters, including Sky, over movie deals that stop broadcasters from airing films in more than one country. 

The investigation will look at if such deals on an exclusive country-by-country bases are harmful to competition. 

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The studios to be investigated are Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal and Paramount Pictures. The probe will also examine the pay-TV broadcasters inclusing Sky in the UK, France’s Canal Plus, Italy’s Sky Italia, Germany’s Sky Deutschland and Spain’s DTS. 

The deals often break up the markets according to national borders with broadcasters granted “absolute territorial protection.” But EU authorities have said such deals could be anti-competitive as they prevent “access to potential subscribers” who may not be in the individual European state where their subscription service is. 

There are already ways to remotely access your Sky+HD box when you’re abroad, but this investigation could make watching Sky Movies on holiday as easy as pulling out your phone, connecting to WiFi and firing up the Sky Go app. 

Advanced Television reports Joaquin Almunia, European commissioner for competition saying: “More and more EU citizens, who watch films, use pay TV services broadcast by satellite and, increasingly, available through online streaming.

“If you subscribe to a Pay TV service in Germany and you go to Italy for holidays, you may not be able to view the films offered by that service from your laptop during your holidays.

“Similarly, if I live in Belgium and want to subscribe to a Spanish Pay TV service, I may not be able to subscribe at all if there is absolute territorial exclusivity.” 

Netflix subscribers are able to access their account in other countries where it operates, although content libraries change slightly depending on where you are. Lovefilm Instant is currently only available in the UK, despite it having territorial agreements with studios such as Miramax, Viacom and Warner Bros.

Though this investigation doesn’t mention Netflix or Lovefilm by name, anyone who sells access to content on a territorial basis may eventually have to make provisions for any customers travelling within the EU. 

Image: Sébastien Bertrand/Flickr

Additional reporting by Thomas Newton. 



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