IBTimes UK

The European Commission has launched an antitrust investigation into the licensing agreements signed by some of the world's largest film studios and European pay TV broadcasters.

Antitrust watchdogs say that the probe will examine whether licensing provisions prevent broadcasters from providing services across borders.

Deals sealed by US majors, Twenty-First Century Fox, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, and Paramount Pictures will all be under scrutiny, as well as those with European pay TV broadcasters, including Britain's BSkyB, France's Canal Plus, Germany's Sky Deutschland, Italy's Sky Italia, and DTS of Spain.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct, the watchdog confirmed.

A number of pay TV broadcasters have fallen under the EU regulator's spotlight over the last few years.

For example, in May 2012, BSkyB was cleared in a UK pay TV probe after the EU regulator said the group no longer dominates the British pay-TV movie market following the arrival of new entrants Lovefilm and Netflix.

"Competition between providers of movie services on pay TV has changed materially and, as a result of these changes, consumers now have much greater choice," said Laura Carstensen, chairman of the Competition Commission investigation at the time.

"Lovefilm and Netflix offer services which are attractive to many consumers and they appear sufficiently well resourced to be in a position to improve the range and quality of their content further."

The provisional finding was a reprieve for BSkyB which has clashed repeatedly with regulators in recent years over its dominance of pay-TV, putting at risk its ability to lure customers with the offer of exclusive movie and sports content.

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BSkyB no longer dominates the British pay-TV movie market following the arrival of Lovefilm and Netflix