Press release, Brussels, 22 May 2007
IMPALA statement on EC approval of UniversalBMG
Following the announcement today that the EC has approved the Universal-BMG Music Publishing merger subject to remedies, IMPALA notes that the decision sends a clear message to all the majors that mergers without concessions will not be permitted. The independents will now assess the decision in detail to determine whether the remedies are an effective check on the market power of UniversalBMG - now the world's biggest record company and music publisher.
IMPALA reserves the right to seek a reversal and stay of the decision on both procedural and substantive grounds if, after consultation with its members, it concludes the remedies are insufficient. The increased market power of UniversalBMG in publishing and recording raises serious concerns of both single and collective dominance and would have justified outright prohibition. The parties proposed remedies in an attempt to address the Commission's concerns.
IMPALA maintains that the industry and Commission must work together on rebalancing the effects of concentration in a manner that addresses the full scope of the market challenges and the digital future facing the music industry. They have been calling on the majors and the Commission since 2000 to seize the opportunity to work together on a blueprint for mergers within the scope of market recovery. Earlier this year IMPALA agreed a full package of merger remedies with Warner that would apply if Warner acquires EMI. In 2004 IMPALA successfully challenged the EC's approval of SonyBMG without remedies.
Patrick Zelnik, (IMPALA President and President CEO of Naïve): With adequate checks and balances against concentration, the music industry can drive itself out of crisis and deliver its economic and social potential. IMPALA has led the way so far with the successful challenge of the SonyBMG and the negotiation of far-reaching remedies with Warner.
Martin Mills (IMPALA Chairman and Chairman of Beggars Group): The remedies proposed by UniversalBMG early on showed how concerned they were to avoid a full public list of complaints against the merger. We now need to check how far they go in dealing with the problems. It is vital that UniversalBMG’s excessive market power is curbed and we will compare this in detail with what we have agreed with Warner.
Michel Lambot (IMPALA Board Member and Co-Chairman of PIAS Group): The EC is proud of the potential of its creative industries and its SMEs but this means nothing without market access. We welcome the fact that this decision sends a clear message to all the majors that the “halcyon” days of music mergers being simply waved through are well and truly over. We now need to examine the decision in detail to see what it actually means.
IMPALA was established in April 2000 as a non-profit making organisation with a scientific and artistic purpose to help independent record companies and music publishers organise themselves.
IMPALA has an all-independent membership and which represents 100% the interests of the independent music sector. It has over 3,500 music company members. The independents are world leaders in terms of R&D and discovering new music and artists. Despite this, they face increasingly complex barriers to trade and severe market access problems.
IMPALA members : !K7 (Germany), Beggars Group (UK), Bonnier Amigo (Sweden), CLS (Hungary), Cooking Vinyl (UK), CNR (Netherlands), Edel (Germany), Epitaph (US/NL), Gazelle (Sweden), Mystic (Poland), Naïve (France), PIAS Group (Belgium), Playground (Sweden), Red Bullet (NL), V2 Music Group (UK), Wagram (France), as well as national trade associations from the UK (AIM), France (UPFI), Germany (VUT), Spain (UFI), Italy (PMI), Denmark (DUP), Norway (FONO), Israel (PIL) and Sweden (SOM) and the Catalonian association APECAT.
For further information on IMPALA, please see http://www.impalasite.org, www.forculturaldiversity.org or contact IMPALA on T: + 32 2 289 2600