Impala has called for European measures to promote independent airplay in the wake of the $12.5 million U.S. payola radio settlement earlier this month.

A side deal to the Federal Communications Commission settlement over paid airtime claims gives indie labels more coverage by the four big radio station groups involved in the investigation.

Pan-European independent music companies' trade firm Impala today called for similar European measures, saying independent artists and record companies need specific guarantee to improve access to radio.

As previously reported, Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Entercom Communications and Citadel agreed to a consent decree that includes a $12.5 million payment to settle payola allegations raised by the FCC. They also separately agreed with the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) to set aside 4,200 hours of free radio time for independent musicians.

Impala welcomed that deal, but pointed out that European independent record companies can also encounter difficulties in getting on radio in Europe. "This is a very significant first step in this area, and A2IM has done an amazing job in achieving this - now we need to build on this," said Impala Chairman Martin Mills, who also heads the Beggars Group.

Impala president Patrick Zelnik, who is also the head of Paris-based indie Naïve records, raised the issue with the European Commission in relation to EC's investigation into the Sony BMG music merger and the Universal BMG music publishing tie-up.

"A similar assessment should be carried out on European radio," said Zelnik. "The FCC investigation has shown just how vulnerable the market is when access is not guaranteed. Europe is one of the most diverse regions in the world with extremely talented artists and its airwaves should reflect this."