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Indie labels to fight Sony-BMG union

Impala claims 95% market share of top 100 sales

LONDON — Europe’s independent record companies are appealing the European Commission’s decision to approve the merger of music majors Sony and BMG.

Decision by the board of Impala, the independent labels’ trade association, came as a surprise: Appeal is the first of its kind in the entertainment sector.

Org received the EC ruling Sept. 23 and, after consultation with its 2,500 member companies, won overwhelming support for the appeal.

“Although this is not the first time third parties have appealed a commission decision approving a merger, it is a historic moment for the music business,” Impala prexy Michel Lambot said. “It is the first time the industry has ever seen such a stance against concentration in the name of market access, fair play and diversity. What impresses me is the extent of feeling right across the sector that enough is enough.”

Impala and U.K. trade body the Assn. of Independent Music have already committed funds for an appeal.

The European Commission approved in July the deal that created the 50-50 music joint venture between Sony and German conglom Bertelsmann, making it the world’s second-biggest record label after Vivendi’s Universal Music.

With EMI Group and Warner Music, they make up the four major record companies, which Impala claims have a 95% market share of top 100 sales in Europe. It claims this concentration of market share is detrimental to the emergence of new artists and creativity.

“The threat of a duopoly operating in the business without any real constraints is too great for any serious company or sector to ignore,” said Alison Wenham, AIM chief exec and Impala VP.

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