Indie trade org fights Sony-BMG merger

Impala appeals EU's merger OK

LONDON — Hoping to get the merger of Sony and BMG overturned, indie music trade org Impala lodged an appeal Friday with the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg.

The grounds of appeal, outlined to the Luxembourg court, include what Impala described as “manifest errors of law, assessment and reasoning in relation to collective dominance in the recorded music market, as well as the impact of the merger on the online and (music) publishing markets.”

In a statement, the indies declared that the European Commission “approval of Sony BMG was all the more extraordinary since two consecutive market investigations carried out by the EC in 2000 and 2004 led to strongly worded statements of objections.”

Those objections included language relating to the marginalization of the independents, which further argue that the commission did not sufficiently investigate the impact of the merger on European culture, consumer choice and diversity, despite European law that obliges it to do so.

The merger was approved July 19, and Impala started to plan its appeal a month ago (Daily Variety, Nov. 4).

Impala noted successful appeals have been made against merger approval decisions before, although it conceded this is the first time an appeal has been made in the entertainment sector.

Impala president Michel Lambot said: “The Sony-BMG fiasco makes Europe neither logical nor comprehensible for its citizens. The EU does U-turns and contradicts its own priorities. The result here is a merger that is a legal, economic, cultural and political disaster. This could have so easily been avoided had the EU fulfilled its role as the guardian of competition, consumer choice, value and cultural diversity. This leaves us no choice but to exercise our rights as citizens and cultural operators.”

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