European independent music companies concerned by EC approval of Universal/EMI merger...
The independents welcome the EC's conclusion that Universal's power is a problem across the whole market, both digital and physical, including access to media. The Commission's insistence on tough remedies, despite strong positioning by Universal, is also applauded, as well as its clear rejection of arguments that piracy and larger online players are restraining forces.
The remedies package put in place, however, is not considered to be tough enough to curb Universal's improved market position.
Independents across the world have objected to the merger since it was first announced. The EC concluded in June that it would be to the detriment of competitors, customers, innovation, consumer choice and ultimately, consumers and cultural diversity.
Helen Smith, Executive Chair, IMPALA commented: "This decision has finally put a freeze on Universal's ability to expand further and sets a benchmark for constraining abusive behaviour across the whole market. Following the approval of the Sony/EMI merger, however, this decision nonetheless reinforces what is already a powerful duopoly. Contrary to the basic principles of competition in cultural markets, artists and consumers will ultimately pay the price. We will consider our options with our lawyers as soon as the full decision is published. In the meantime, it is vital that the divestments process balances the market and maximises competitive forces to the duopoly."
Martin Mills, Chairman of Beggars Group, added "It's good to see that the Commission has seen this deal as such a threat to the market that it has demanded and received truly swingeing commitments to divestments. However, that should not conceal that fact that Universal's arrogance has paid off for them, that they have destroyed a significant competitor, and that even with these divestments their ability to dominate and control the market has reached even more unacceptable levels. Anyone trying to start a new digital service will be realising that very soon, and we will continue to look to the regulators to monitor ongoing behaviour."
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are SMEs. Known as the “independents”, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists - they produce more than 80% of all new releases. SME’s also produce 80% of Europe’s jobs. Their potential is enormous but is hampered by complex barriers to trade and severe market access problems. The impact on diversity, consumer choice and pluralism is clear. Over 95% of what most people hear and see, whether on radio, retail or the internet, is concentrated in the hands of four multinationals, known as the majors.
Cultural and creative SMEs are now officially recognised by the EU as “the drivers of growth, job creation and innovation”. IMPALA expects the EC and its member countries to put in place key investment, digital and market access measures. Fostering Europe's economy of culture and diversity is one of the EU's top priorities in becoming the world's leading knowledge economy. Culture is a bigger earner than any of chemicals, automobiles or ICT manufacturing and provides more than 3% of Europe's jobs. IMPALA has its own award schemes to help promote cultural diversity and new talent and highlight the artistic contribution of independent music. IMPALA award winning artists include Efterklang, Adele, Manu Chao, Radiohead, Agnes Obel, Caro Emerald and Sigur Ros.
Please visit http://www.impalamusic.org, or call IMPALA on +32 2 503 31 38