News on EMI/WMG, Liza/VH1, 'Headbanger's Ball'
EMI Group plc this morning (Sept. 22) confirmed it has begun talks on a merger with Warner Music Group (WMG). In a brief statement issued to the London stock exchange, EMI acknowledged it had entered non-exclusive discussions with Time Warner Inc. on a "possible transaction involving the recorded music division."
"Discussions are at a very preliminary stage," says the EMI statement, "and there is no assurance that they will result in an agreement acceptable to both parties."
The development was widely anticipated following the conclusion last week of an exclusive period for merger talks between WMG and Bertelsmann's BMG. EMI's previous endeavor to join with WMG came to an end in October 2000 as a result of intense scrutiny from the European Commission's competition watchdogs.
Brussels-based indie labels trade body IMPALA was a vociferous opponent of the failed EMI-WMG merger, and its lobbying efforts against the tie-up undoubtedly helped sway the outcome. "Our position has not changed since the initial merger plans three years ago," says general secretary Philippe Kern. "We believe that one reason for the current crisis in the recorded music industry is the effects of concentration and consolidation. As we have also said in the past, we will oppose the five majors becoming four."
-- Lars Brandle, London