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EC ends probe of CD pricing policies

Commission finds most problems fixed

NEW YORK — The European Commission has halted its 8-month-old probe of the big five major record labels on allegations of price fixing on compact discs sold within the European Union.

Investigation, which began in January, mirrored a similar effort by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in May 2000 concerning the industry’s minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policy, through which retailers received advertising support in return for making sure that prices stayed above a predetermined floor.

The FTC claimed that consumers were overcharged by $480 million under MAP policies, which have since been revoked. Probe sparked a civil action by 28 state attorneys general, which is still ongoing.

In its investigation, the EC found that three of the big five diskeries previously had MAP-like policies in force with German retailers, but had subsequently ended the practice, and that one major had potentially problematic pricing policy in Italy.

Without identifying the labels in question, the EC said local competition authorities in those countries should address the problem.

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