Europe Widens Next-Gen Disc Antitrust Probe

Antitrust regulators in Europe are widening their investigation of possible anticompetitive practices among proponents of Sony’s Blu-ray Disc and Toshiba-backed HD DVD formats.

Although neither side has been charged with any wrongdoing, the European Commission recently forwarded written inquiries pertaining to how Hollywood studios, among others, decided to back one format or the other. The EC is seeking all pertinent communications (including e-mails) that the studios may have had regarding Blu-ray and HD DVD, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The EC, in part, is reportedly interested in the process of the Blu-ray camp, considering that format’s near-unanimous acceptance among major Hollywood studios. Its initial probe will seek to examine what tactics, if any, were used to persuade content providers to favor the format over its lone major competitor, HD DVD.

Among other things, the EC (which represents the European Union) is seeking answers to whether proponents of either format may have employed any unfair “restrictive agreements” to use only one format over the exclusion of the other.