As the date approaches for regulatory statements on the sale of EMI and MIDEM begins this weekend, IMPALA has issued a statement on the sale. In November, hortly before the sale, IMPALA called for the European Commision to intervene on its behalf.
Imapala has a history of fighting consolidation in the music business. Most notable was its ability to get the European Court of First Instance to annul the European Commissions 2004 decision to allow the 2003 merger of Sony Music Entertainment and BMG Music. It was all for naught, however: In 2007 the European Commission concluded its investigation by reaffirming the earlier decision and imposing no conditions on the companies. Sony increased the industry's level of concentration even more when it acquired BMG's half of the joint venture in 2008.
Facing the seeming inevitability of three majors instead of four, Impala is in the position of choosing the lesser of two perceived evils. In a statement following EMI's acquisition by Universal, Impala argued that a Warner-EMI deal "could help balance the [Universal/Sony] duopoly." But a Warner-EMI tie-up wasn't as preferable when Access Industries acquired Warner earlier in the year. After that deal closed Impala released a statement warning that "any attempt to combine EMI with Warner would similarly be blocked unless there are substantial remedies to solve the competition problems of going from four to three majors."
"As reports circulate of regulatory filings in Europe weeks after the USA, independent music companies confirm their opposition to the proposed sale of EMI to Universal and Sony, the world's biggest music companies," IMPALA's statement reads in part. "Protest is also spreading at national level, following initiatives led by independent associations such as AIM in the UK, while European body IMPALA fully expects regulators in both the USA and Europe to block the transactions outright.
"Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA, commented: 'Neither the USA nor Europe wants to see the music sector become a two-horse race, devoid of competition from any other companies.' IMPALA also confirmed it has already made initial submissions to both the FTC and the European Commission, setting out the concerns of the independent sector regarding the plan by Universal and Sony to carve up EMI, their second closest rival, between them."