Independent music companies and entertainment retailers Tuesday voiced their concerns to the European Commission's decision to allow music giants Sony and BMG to merge.

Independent music companies and entertainment retailers Tuesday voiced their concerns to the European Commission's decision to allow music giants Sony and BMG to merge.

The groups most likely to be affected by this decision have asked the European Commissioners to review their options.

In a letter sent Monday, the groups point out that they provided the Commission with ample reasons as to why, at the very least, conditions should accompany any clearance of the merger.

They provided evidence and indicated essential concerns that required full investigation by the Commission. Given this, they cannot understand how the Commission could possibly contemplate such an 'easy' clearance when conditions could have dealt effectively with the problems.

The group collectively takes the view that the answer is more competition not more concentration. Any decision to simply waive through the merger would be the worst possible outcome, the group said.

The group is seriously concerned that the Commission does not appear to have properly considered the impact of the merger in a number of key areas. These include the development of on-line services, worsening of artists' contractual terms, distortion of the market in the publishing, licensing, promotion and marketing of music, and reduction of the variety and volume of music available commercially, especially from European artists.

Should the merger be authorized without reasonable safeguards and related conditions, considering the extraordinary damage that this will cause to their interests, the group will be forced to consider all available options, including legal action. They believe such a decision would be fundamentally flawed.

Michel Lambot, president of European independent record labels pressure group Impala, said : "What we need is more competition and innovation. The merger will have precisely the opposite effect. The failure to even attempt to address the problems the Commission itself has identified is illogical."

Dominick Luquer, general secretary of the International Federation of Actors, which represents more than 100 performers' unions, guilds and professional associations, said: "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."

The group includes the International Federation of Actors, the International Federation of Musicians, the Global Entertainment Retail Association-Europe, the IMMF and Impala.


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