When Sony Music announced that its acquisition of ATV Music created the third-largest music publishing company, a collective groan emanated from rival publishing company execs.

While there is no dispute that Warner/Chappell and EMI Music hold the Nos. 1 and 2 spots in the publishing hierarchy, respectively, the identity of the company that ranks third is the subject of much spirited debate.

Polygram Music and BMG Music each claim to hold that spot.

BMG fans suggest that its catalog of 700,000 tunes puts it ahead of Polygram, and clearly in front of Sony/ATV’s 120,000 copyrights.

And industry observers are equally split when it comes to naming music publishing^ show horse.

Though Polygram does not break out its earnings, observers expect that the company’s more than 300,000 copyrights earn it a tidy sum.

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