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INSTITUTIONS / LEGISLATION Europe / UK

The EC withdraws its 2019 decision making commitments on Disney, Warner Bros, Sky UK and other global streamers binding

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- The withdrawal decision follows the annulment of the European Commission's similar commitments imposed on Paramount Pictures, dating from 2016

The EC withdraws its 2019 decision making commitments on Disney, Warner Bros, Sky UK and other global streamers binding

On 31 March, the European Commission withdrew its 2019 decision which made commitments on Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros, and on the broadcaster Sky UK, binding. The news was reported in an official communiqué published on the European Commission's digital press corner.

The commitments addressed the European Commission's concerns regarding certain clauses in the studios' film-licensing agreements for pay TV with Sky UK. These clauses prevented Sky UK from allowing EU consumers outside the UK and Ireland to subscribe to Sky UK's pay-TV services to access films via satellite or online. They also required some of the studios to ensure that broadcasters other than Sky UK are prevented from making their pay-TV services available in the UK and Ireland.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

The withdrawal of the 2019 decision follows the annulment of the European Commission's earlier 2016 decision in the same investigation, which made similar commitments on Paramount Pictures binding. While the General Court had upheld the 2016 Commission decision, with its judgement in 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union set aside the General Court's judgement and annulled that decision because it found that the commitments had disproportionally affected the contractual rights of the Canal+ Group, a third-party broadcaster (as discussed in case C 132/19).

However, both the General Court and the Court of Justice upheld the Commission's preliminary competition concerns regarding the legality of the clauses in question. Both the General Court and the Court of Justice confirmed that licensing agreements with clauses designed to eliminate the cross-border provision of broadcasting services and conferring on broadcasters absolute territorial protection along national borders give rise to competition concerns. In view of these rulings and the changes made to the agreements between the studios and broadcasters, the Commission sees no need to continue the investigation and has, therefore, closed proceedings.

More information will be made available here, as well as in the public case register under case number AT.40023. Watch this space.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

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