Brussels, 20th July 2016
Further concerns over “transformative” Sony/SonyATV transaction raised in Brussels
As the European Commission reaches a key stage in its investigation into Sony's buy out of the Michael Jackson estate’s shares in Sony/ATV, independent music companies renew their call for a tough stance to be taken.
Describing the deal as “transformative”, IMPALA has submitted its concerns formally and has written to the Commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager.
IMPALA’s executive chair, Helen Smith summarised IMPALA’s position: “The Sony/ATV deal would have a transformative effect. The European Commission knows the situation and the solutions, having already identified concerns about the impact of Sony’s increased market power on prices, and other terms and conditions in the digital market."
IMPALA would expect the European Commission to take a strict line this time around and open a detailed Phase 2 investigation.
The Commission is currently examining responses from customers and competitors and will deliver a verdict on 1 August unless remedies are proposed to try and get the deal through in the first phase (this Friday 22 July is the deadline for Sony to propose remedies).
Helen Smith added “Brussels has set a limit on how much power Sony should have and it now needs to enforce it”.
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent European independent music companies. One of IMPALA's missions is to keep the music market as open and competitive as possible. IMPALA has an impressive record on competition cases in the music sector. The first EMI/Warner merger was withdrawn in 2001 following objections from the EU after IMPALA intervened, in its first year of existence. It also won a landmark judgment in 2006 in the Sony/BMG case, and when Sony acquired 30% of EMI publishing in 2012, it was at the cost of significant divestments. The biggest set of remedies proportionately ever in a merger case was secured later that year, when UMG was forced to sell two thirds of EMI records and had to accept ten years of scrutiny over the terms of its digital deals. When WMG bought Parlophone in 2013, IMPALA secured a hefty divestments package for its members. On top of mergers, IMPALA has also been involved in other anti-trust cases involving the music sector, such as the abuse complaint against YouTube in 2014 and the call for regulating unfair business practices by large online players. IMPALA has also submitted observations on Apple’s bid to acquire Shazam. See the organisation's other key achievements in IMPALA's milestones.