Brussels, 17th September 2012
As the deadline approaches for the EC to rule on the proposed Universal/EMI merger, music independent companies across Europe today urged the Commission to block Universal's endeavour to gain more power in the music market.
In a letter sent today to European Commissioners, IMPALA asked the EC to "stay faithful to its Statement of Objections issued in June, which concluded that the merger was a real danger in nearly all member states". IMPALA has raised its concerns with the European Commission and other regulators since the sale of EMI was announced last year, when IMPALA also called for a political debate on whether the music market should be allowed to become a "two horse race".
In today's letter, IMPALA also underlined that allowing the biggest music company in the world to become even more powerful was inconsistent with the EC's stated concerns about the digital market and how copyright is misused, as well as its ambitions for unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries through their smaller actors.
Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA, concluded that "blocking Universal's attempt to increase its market power by buying one of its most thriving competitors is the logical outcome. It is difficult to see how remedies could be compatible with the EC's Statement of Objections, which predicted that the merger would cause foreclosure of competitor's access to media, as well as price increases and other problems. If Europe wants to promote competition and diversity, and ensure customers and consumers are protected from copyright abuse, now is the time to take a stance."
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.