Brussels, 17th july 2012
At an IMPALA board meeting yesterday, the board voted to continue its opposition to the Universal/EMI merger, underlining its concerns that any remedies would have to be able to deal with the concerns raised by the European regulators regarding the impact of the merger.
IMPALA will comment on any proposed remedies in due course when the EC market tests them. The EC is subject to strict rules and has to ensure any undertakings completely eliminate all problems identified, otherwise it is obliged to reject the proposed remedies.
Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA commented: "Our board took a clear decision yesterday to continue its opposition to the Universal/EMI merger, rejecting remedies which do not deal with the specific problems set out in the EC's statement of objections. The issue isn't just digital, it's physical and access to media- exposure for new artists, as well as the foreclosure of independents when it comes to signing artists. We all respect Patrick Zelnik's view, but the FT article is the Naive position, not the Impala position."
IMPALA agrees that digital companies are giants and need proper regulation, but the problem is that excessive concentration in the music sector would help Universal mould services towards its own interests and obtain more than its fair share of exposure. This result repeats itself all the way from offline to access to media to signing artists. That is the underlying issue which needs to be addressed. From where we are sitting right now with what we know about the EC's objections, that seems a tall order.
IMPALA has made its position clear to the European Commission. The rules governing the European Commission's approach to dealing with remedies are set out in a remedies notice, which it is obliged to comply with.
IMPALA normally takes decisions by consensus and its statutes allow decisions to be taken by two thirds majority in the absence of unanimity. IMPALA is a large and diverse community and of of its strengths is its ability to encompass a range of varying personal views. At yesterday's meeting 25 board members voted and the result was a rejection of remedies not dealing comprehensively with the problems identified above.
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.