Indie trade group issues protest to Monti.

European independent labels organization Impala says it will challenge the Sony-BMG merger in court if the deal gets clearance from the European Commission.

The threat was made in a letter sent yesterday to Mario Monti, the European Commissioner in charge of competition. Last week, it emerged that Monti was to recommend that the EC give the merger a green light.

In Impala's letter, which was seen by, the trade group's members "protest fiercely" against the merger's clearance by the EC. They say approval of the deal would be "a quadruple error, for economical, cultural, political and legal reasons."

Impala writes that if the merger gets a green light, "It leaves us no choice but to apply to the court of First Instance in Luxembourg." It can take up to 18 months for the court to start judging a case.

Helen Smith, deputy general secretary of Brussels-based Impala, confirms that the letter was sent to Monti and that Impala will legally challenge the merger. "We will take legal action if the merger is confirmed," she says.

Smith is confident that much can happen between now and July 22, the deadline set for the Commission to rule on the proposed merger. "It is still not impossible that the Commission decides it can be prohibited -- the battle is not yet over," she adds.

Impala represents more than 2,000 independent labels in Europe.