The oral hearing organized by the European Commission's competition department to discuss the Sony-BMG merger will give the opportunity for both parties to present their case and respond to objections

BRUSSELS -- The oral hearing organized by the European Commission's competition department to discuss the Sony-BMG merger will give the opportunity for both parties to present their case and respond to objections to the proposed merger.

The hearing, due to take place June 7-8 in Brussels, follows the release of the EC's "Statement of Objections," which was sent to both parties May 24.

The hearing is part of the "Phase II" in the merger procedures. It follows an in-depth investigation from the Commission that launched in January.

During the hearing, Sony and BMG will also be able to offer, if necessary, concessions to alleviate the Commission's concerns.

Both companies say they are cooperating fully with the EC. "We cooperate with the EC, we respect their prerogatives and we deal with their concerns," says a source close to the merger.

The Statement of Objections --which has not been made public --recounts all arguments against the merger presented by competing companies, consumer associations, music publishers, retailers and trade bodies like European independent label's organization Impala.

The 61-page document raises issues such as collective dominance and vertical and horizontal integration.

Sony and BMG have two weeks to respond to the Statement of Objections. The companies' legal and government-affairs teams are understood to be preparing a statement, to be filed by June 9.

The final deadline for the EC probe is July 22. All major issues -- including the final negotiations between the Commission and Sony and BMG -- must be resolved a month earlier, on June 22.

The merger is expected to be formally cleared or blocked at a European Commission meeting to be held July 14.