Short Reads

Commission publishes commitments offered by Paramount Pictures in pay-TV investigation

Commission publishes commitments offered by Paramount Pictures in pay-TV investigation

Commission publishes commitments offered by Paramount Pictures in pay-TV investigation

02.05.2016 NL law

On 22 April 2016, the European Commission published commitments that were offered by Paramount Pictures to address competition concerns relating to provisions in its licence agreements with broadcasters that restrict the cross-border provision of pay-TV services.

In January 2014, the Commission opened proceedings to investigate contractual clauses in licence agreements between several major US film studios and the largest European pay-TV broadcasters. US film studios typically conclude bilateral agreements with a single pay-TV broadcaster for each country in the EU to licence audio-visual content, such as films, on an exclusive and territorial basis. In July 2015, the Commission announced that it had sent a statement of objections to broadcaster Sky UK and six US film studios alleging that clauses in licence agreements restricting the cross-border provision of pay-TV services, via satellite or online, may violate Article 101 of the TFEU.

In particular, the Commission had identified clauses in the licence agreements preventing Sky UK from responding to unsolicited requests from customers located outside its licenced territory of the UK and Ireland. In the Commission's view, broadcasters must not be prevented from making passive sales to viewers in other EU member states. In addition, some licence agreements contained clauses requiring the film studios to ensure that broadcasters other than Sky UK were prevented from making their pay-TV services available in Sky UK's licenced territory. According to the Commission, these clauses would grant "absolute territorial exclusivity" to Sky UK and eliminate cross-border competition between pay-TV broadcasters.

To address the Commission's competition concerns, Paramount Pictures has offered the following commitments:

  • Paramount Pictures will not (re)introduce contractual obligations, which prevent or limit a pay-TV broadcaster from responding to unsolicited requests from consumers located outside the broadcaster's licenced territory;
  • Paramount Pictures will not (re)introduce contractual obligations, which require Paramount Pictures to prohibit or limit pay-TV broadcasters located outside the licenced territory from responding to unsolicited requests from consumers within the licenced territory.

Paramount Pictures has also offered a commitment that it will not enforce such obligations in its existing pay-TV licence agreements.

The commitments would apply for a period of five years and cover both standard pay-TV services and subscription video-on-demand services. The Commission intends to declare the proposed commitments binding. Such a decision is not a conclusion that there has been an infringement of the EU competition rules, but it legally binds Paramount Pictures to respect the commitments it has offered.

Interested parties can submit their views on the proposed commitments until 23 May 2016. The Commission is continuing its investigation regarding the conduct of the five other US film studios and Sky UK.  

The pay-TV investigation shows the Commission's approach to the application of competition rules to new digital markets. The Court of Justice ruled in 2011 that broadcasters were not allowed to establish absolute territorial protections in licence agreements in the context of football matches broadcast via satellite. The Commission now seems to have applied the same principles used by the Court of Justice to geo-blocking online content, a topic that has been high on the Commission's agenda for some time. In May 2015, the Commission launched a sector inquiry into e-commerce, which included a focus on providers of digital content. The initial findings on the existence of geo-blocking practices were published in March 2016 [see our April 2016 newsletter]. In parallel with its investigations under competition law, as part of its Digital Market Strategy, the Commission published its action plan to modernise EU copyright rules and a proposal for a Regulation to enable the cross-border portability of digital content in December 2015. Further proposals in this respect are soon to be expected.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of May 2016. Other articles in this newsletter:

1. Commission reduced EURIBOR cartel fine imposed on Société Générale by EUR 218 million
2. ACM clarifies that a party cannot object to the fine imposed on another addressee of the decision

Team

Related news

10.10.2018 NL law
Ongevraagd advies Raad van State: normering van geautomatiseerde overheidsbesluitvorming

Short Reads - Op 31 augustus 2018 heeft de Afdeling advisering van de Raad van State (hierna: "Afdeling advisering") een 'Ongevraagd advies over de effecten van de digitalisering voor de rechtsstatelijke verhoudingen' betreffende de positie en de bescherming van de burger tegen een "iOverheid" uitgebracht. Het gebeurt niet vaak dat de Afdeling advisering zo een ongevraagd advies uitbrengt. Dit onderstreept het belang van de voortdurend in ontwikkeling zijnde technologie en digitalisering in relatie tot de verhouding tussen de overheid en de maatschappij.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
UK Court upholds fine against Ping for online sales ban

Short Reads - On 7 September 2018, the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) upheld the UK Competition and Market Authority's (CMA) decision fining Ping Europe Limited, a manufacturer of golf clubs, for violating EU and UK competition law by prohibiting two UK retailers from selling Ping golf clubs online. While the CAT reduced the fine from £1.45 million to £1.25 million, it confirmed that outright online sales bans in the context of selective distribution agreements are restrictive of competition by object.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
Court of Justice refers case against Infineon in relation to smart card chips cartel back to the General Court

Short Reads - On 26 September 2018, the European Court of Justice partially set aside the judgment of the General Court in the smart card chips cartel case. Infineon had argued that the General Court wrongfully assessed only five out of eleven allegedly unlawful contacts. The Court agreed with Infineon insofar as its argument related to the amount of the fine imposed. Philips had also appealed the General Court judgment but that appeal was dismissed in its entirety meaning that the Court of Justice upheld the European Commission's decision and fine.

Read more

01.10.2018 EU law
Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal annuls mail market analysis decision

Short Reads - On 3 September 2018, the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) annulled the market analysis decision regarding 24-hour business mail issued by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on 27 July 2017. In appeal proceedings filed by PostNL, the CBb ruled that the ACM had failed to demonstrate that digital mail was not part of the relevant market for 24-hour business mail.

Read more

26.09.2018 EU law
Algemene bepalingen inzake oneerlijke handelspraktijken wijken voor specifiekere regelgeving

Articles - In geval van strijdigheid tussen de Richtlijn Oneerlijke Handelspraktijken[1] (en bij uitbreiding de omzettingsbepalingen in Boek VI WER) en andere Europeesrechtelijke voorschriften betreffende specifieke aspecten van oneerlijke handelspraktijken, hebben deze laatste voorrang (zie artikel 3, lid 4 van de Richtlijn Oneerlijke Handelspraktijken). Dat dit tot interessante discussies kan leiden, bleek uit een recent arrest van het Hof van Justitie[2].

Read more

Our website uses cookies: third party analytics cookies to best adapt our website to your needs & cookies to enable social media functionalities. For more information on the use of cookies, please check our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Please note that you can change your cookie opt-ins at any time via your browser settings.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring