BMG, Vivendi to exit respective groups as concession
The European Commission has confirmed that it has received final concessions from AOL and Time Warner. The two companies hope the remedies they’ve offered will ease the EC’s antitrust concerns over the $183 billion merger.
The deadline for delivering concessions to the EC passed Sunday.
The companies are understood to have put forward four remedies. They will ensure that media giant Bertelsmann, owner of the BMG music group, exits its AOL Europe joint venture with AOL and that Vivendi, which is buying Universal Music, exits AOL France.
These two measures are designed to appease the EC’s fears that the content of these music and entertainment majors will be too closely linked to AOL’s pipes into consumers’ homes.
The companies have also offered behavioral remedies to address the EC’s concerns over the impact of the vertical integration of Time Warner’s content, especially music, and AOL’s distribution channels. TW has pledged not to discriminate against rival ISPs in the content market for five years.
Falling on deaf ears
Meanwhile, concessions offered to the EC by EMI and Time Warner over their music merger are meeting with a cold reaction from their competitors.
The EC is currently “market testing” the remedies, and early indications are that most rivals believe the concessions do not address the core antitrust concerns of the merger.
The EC has until Oct. 24 to come to a decision on whether to approve the AOL/Time Warner merger. A decision on the Time Warner/EMI deal is expected early in October.