The proposed merger of Sony Music and BMG will be formally confirmed by the European Commission on July 20, sources say. The 30 Commissioners, meeting in Strasbourg, France, are expected to nod the de

The proposed merger of Sony Music and BMG will be formally confirmed by the European Commission on July 20, sources say. The Commission -- the European Union's anti-trust authority -- will give the green light to plans that would create the world's largest record label and reduce the number of music majors from five to four. The 30 Commissioners, meeting in Strasbourg, France, are expected to nod the deal through without even discussing it.

The decision will come a month after Competition Commissioner Mario Monti concluded that there was no solid evidence to show price collusion between the majors, or to suggest that a merger would harm the music market.

However, the decision is still being contested today by a coalition of groups. Among its chief concerns, the coalition -- spearheaded by Brussels-based independent labels' lobby Impala -- claims a merger would distort the market in the publishing, licensing, promotion and marketing of music.

Retailers' group GERA, the international federation of musicians FIM, International Music Managers Forum IMMF, actors' federation FIA and Impala jointly appealed to the Commission to review the case. "The impact of going from five to four cannot be underestimated," they said in a joint letter to the Commission. "Already, the collective power and conduct of the major record companies imposes unfair terms across the whole of the music business, from developing the careers of artists and composers, to licensing, to retail, to on-line. This stifles innovation and competition in music, price, new formats and the Internet," the letter adds.

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