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EU antitrust move ‘bad for producers’

The European Commission’s probe into country-specific TV rights deals could undermine the funding model for content in the region and ultimately threaten jobs in the TV and film industries, according to Pact.

Pact boss John McVayThe UK trade association for independent producers was reacting to the European Commission’s investigation, announced last month, into rights deals between European pay TV platform Sky and the Hollywood studios.

The Commission sent a statement of objections to the parties in July alleging that they have put in place restrictions preventing Sky UK from allowing EU consumers not resident in the UK or Ireland from viewing its pay TV services.

If the Commission’s preliminary findings are confirmed, each of the companies would have breached EU competition rules.

Pact said it is concerned that without territory-specific deals the funding model for original content would be threatened, there will be less cash for new programming and jobs will be at risk.

“Without the ability to fully finance shows through pre-sales by individual territory, some projects simply wouldn’t be able to secure the full funding to go ahead,”said John McVay, Pact chief executive. “Another scenario is, without these exclusive deals, broadcasters will pay less and producers will have less money to invest in quality content for the consumer.”

“The reality is that this will harm diversity and excellence of content for the consumer and it will impact on SMEs [small- and medium-sized enterprises] and small producers who will have less ability to adapt than larger companies. Jobs will be at risk too, and any impact on the TV and film sector, which has been at the heart of successful creative industries across the EU, will reverberate across the industry”.

The EU investigation follows an 18-month investigation by the Commission. Sky and the studios have yet to formally respond and there is no deadline for the conclusion of the Commission probe.