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European Regulatory Spotlight: EU antitrust regulators quiz Hollywood studios and Sky


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European Regulatory Spotlight: EU antitrust regulators quiz Hollywood studios and Sky

In this bi-weekly feature,SNL Kagan provides a roundup of significant recent regulatory events in Europe.


*EU antitrust regulators quizzed Hollywood studios and U.K.'s  over pay TV deals, as part of an antitrust probe on cross-border accessto online film content, Bloomberg News reportedMarch 29, citing a questionnaire sent to thecompanies. The EU reportedly wants details concerning film revenue, length oftheatrical run of movies and the time it takes to reach 80% of total box officesales per territory, among others. Studios interviewed were 's 20th Century Fox,Viacom.'s ParamountPictures, Walt Disney, TimeWarner's Warner Bros., 's  and SonyCorp.'s Sony Pictures, according to the report. 


*  has criticized Ofcom's demands to slash wholesaleprices, among others, saying the required price cuts will not result inimproved services, the Daily Expressreported March 23. BT alsoslammed the idea of opening its dark fiber to rivals, and explained thatservice delays are beyond their control due to the complexity of high-speedlines installation, according to the report. The British telecom watchdogpreviously demanded better services from BT and its infrastructure armOpenreach, saying its performance thus far "has not been acceptable."

* The Britishgovernment will hold online marketplaces like  and liable for sellers' unpaidvalue-added taxes in certain cases, U.K. Chancellor George Osborne said in aMarch 16 speech presenting the 2016 budget. The government's taxauthority, HM Revenue & Customs, will be able to require noncompliantoverseas traders to appoint a tax representative in the U.K. The agency willalso be able to inform online marketplaces of the traders who have not compliedwith VAT laws.

* Ireland'sCommission for Communications Regulation, or ComReg, might consider breaking upEircom, followingconcerns over its regulatory compliance. However, ComReg Chairman JeremyGodfrey toldthe Irish Independent March 17 thatsuch a move would be more intrusive and require a higher burden of evidence, aswell as the approval of the European Commission. Eir is being investigated forits alleged anticompetitive practices.


* The Paris HighCourt has found several clauses in the terms and conditions on the subscriptioncontract of 's Free to be abusive, Challenges reportedMarch 29. In a decision issued that same day, the court deemed that a number ofFree's contractual clauses, such as the impossibility to request paper invoiceswhen signing up, or excessive cancellation fees, are illegal and should ceaseand be removed from contracts with immediately. Free reportedly told AgenceFrance-Presse that it intends to appeal and that several of the clauses citedare no longer included in their terms and conditions. 

* French data protection authority Commission Nationale de l'Informatiqueet des Libertés, or CNIL, issued Google a €100,000 fine for "right to beforgotten"-related infractions, CNIL saidon its website on March 24. CNIL previously ordered Google to extend delistingof search results across all geographic extensions, such as .fr or .com,arguing that delisting does not mean removal of the information on theInternet. The decision may be appealed before the Conseil d'État,France's highest administrative court.

* Following a March 25 orderissued by the French telecoms regulator ARCEP, operators will no longer be ableto use just the word "fiber" in sales and marketing materials if thefinal section is provided by other means and must clarify this fact tosubscribers. The ruling is a win for FTTH providers Orange and Free, who hadaccused SFR of false advertising, accordingto a March 25 report in La Tribune. Theobjection refers to SFR using the term fiber to describe a different technologythat, while using a mostly fiber network, usually stops at the entrance tobuildings then uses coaxial cable to connect subscribers.

* France's highest administrative court Conseil d'État ruled on March 21 that Numericable–SFR isno longer entitled to the special inherited exception on cable. It will now besubject to the same regime as other Internet service providers for thebroadcast of CanalSatellite. At the time of the acquisition of TPS byCanal Plus, thecompetition regulator chose to protect cable by allowing access to 40 channelsdistributed exclusively by CanalSatellite. Orange, Iliadand Bouygues Telecom were effectively excluded from access due toprohibitive fees, French newspaper Le Figaro reported on March 21, quoting anundisclosed source. The competition regulator considered that the merger ofNumericable and SFR in 2014 ended the exception. Numericable-SFR had challengedthe decision.

* Copyright watchdog Brein reached a settlement withDutchmembers of torrent release group 2Lions Team, according to a March 21Tweakers report.The members, who will pay Brein €67,500, have taken their website and torrentsoffline. According to Brein, the two men and one woman were responsible foruploading thousands of titles to torrent sites like ThePirateBay, ExtraTorrent, Demonoid, 1337x and Ahashare.

*  lost a patent suit filed by Kudelski Group unit OpenTV Inc. inGermany,Reuters reportedon March 17. The Dusseldorf District Court reportedly ruled that Apple cannotsell devices in Germany that contain streaming software that infringe OpenTVpatents. OpenTV filed the lawsuit in 2014, claiming that Apple products such asthe iPhone and iPad infringed its video streaming patents. OpenTV also has asimilar lawsuit against Apple in the U.S.


* A dispute between partly state-owned  and rival operators over cheaper access to the former's fiber-optic networkcould hamper the rollout of 4G services in Turkey on April1, Reuters reportedon March 22. Turkcell and Vodafone unit Vodafone Turkey reportedly want price regulationfor the fees charged by Turk Telekom regarding the use of its network. Itremains unclear how the Turkish government will intervene in the row.

*Vodafone Italia received a €1 million fine for charging customers withunwanted services, Telecompaper reportedMarch 17. Italiancommunications watchdog AgCom ruled that the operator violated the transparencystandards of Italy's Consumer Code, when it reportedly signed up customers toits monthly €1.90 Vodafone Exclusive program without their consent, and refusedto give out refunds thereafter. The scheme involved subscriber contracts signedafter June 13, 2014, according to the report. AgCom also ordered VodafoneItalia to stop the activity and publish an extract of the ruling on itshomepage as a notice to its customers.


* The National Council of Television and Radio Broadcastingof Ukraine banned 14 more Russianchannels in the country, Broadband TV News reportedMarch 18, citing a statement from the regulator. The channels reportedly do notcomply with Ukrainian laws and the European Convention on TransfrontierTelevision, of which Russia is not a signatory. The channels include Ocean TV,HD Life, TDK, 24 Dok and STV, among others.

* Poland'sNational Broadcasting Council, or KRRiT, will not withdraw any of the licensesit granted in November 2015 for the country's eighth DTT , Broadband TV News reportedMarch 18, citing an interview in quoted by Wirtualne Media. KRRiTChairman Jan Dworak reportedly said that the regulator made the decision afterdismissing Telewizja Puls and ScrippsNetworks Interactive's Scripps Networks Polska's appeals againstthe award of a DTT license to broadcaster Agora.

* Russia's Ministry of Communications and Mass Media isproposing an amendment to the country's telecom law that will limitinternational links to local operators, Telecompaper reportedon March 18, citing Izvestiya. The proposal aims to address statesecurity issues, according to the report.