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COALITION OF THE UNWILLING

Trade Groups Unite to Oppose Sony-BMG, Call on EC to Reconsider
A number of European trade organizations sent Mario Monti and the European Commission a letter Monday asking the regulatory body to reconsider clearing the proposed Sony-BMG recorded-music merger, according to a press release published by Dow Jones International News.

The International Federation of Actors, the International Federation of Musicians, the European Global Entertainment Retail Association, the U.K.-based International Music Managers’ Forum and previously vocal anti-merger indie label organization Impala banded together to present themselves as the groups most likely to be adversely affected by the proposed major music company combination.

Collectively taking the position that increasing concentration in the European music business would be a serious blow, the group asked the Commission to reconsider all options, pointing out that at the very least, a demand for certain conditions or concessions on the merging parties should be made in order to address competition issues the EC itself identified in its formal “statement of objections” to the deal.

Following two days of oral arguments by those for and against the merger and an internal review known as a “devil’s advocate panel,” word quickly spread in mid-June that the EC plans to clear the merger with few or no concessions by the July 22 deadline. The Commissioners were said to have found insufficient evidence to support their previous objections.

The group of trade organizations emphasized in its letter that the EC has not thoroughly considered the impact the Sony-BMG merger will have in areas including online services, artist contracts, music publishing, licensing, promotion and marketing, and the availability of music from local artists. The group stressed that, given the evidence at hand, to clear the merger without conditions addressing known problems would be a “fundamentally flawed” decision.

“What we need is more competition and innovation,” said Impala President Michel Lambot. “The merger will have precisely the opposite effect. The failure to even attempt to address the problems the Commission itself has identified is illogical.”

Added International Federation of Actors General Secretary Dominick Luquer, “We cannot accept this merger and are astonished that the European Commission may be about to green-light it as if it was in the interests of the industry as a whole. Allowing the merger to go through would irremediably compromise performers and be prejudicial to the cultural diversity that the E.U. is struggling so hard to preserve at world level.”
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