European independent trade body IMPALA has repeated its concerns over Universal's $1.9bn ($1.2bn) takeover of EMI, which has been approved by the EC with strict conditions.
IMPALA said it welcomed the EC's conclusion that Universal's power was problematic across the whole market, both digital and physical, including access to media. It was also pleased about what it called the Commission's "insistence" on tough conditions as well as it rejecting arguments piracy and larger online players are restraining forces.
But, despite all that, it believed the remedies package was not enough to curb Universal's improved market position.
IMPAPLA executive chair Helen Smith said: "This decision has finally put a freeze on Universal's ability to expand further and sets a benchmark for constraining abusive behaviour across the whole market. Following the approval of the Sony/EMI merger, however, this decision nonetheless reinforces what is already a powerful duopoly. Contrary to the basic principles of competition in cultural markets, artists and consumers will ultimately pay the price. We will consider our options with our lawyers as soon as the full decision is published. In the meantime, it is vital that the divestments process balances the market and maximise competitive forces to the duopoly."
AIM chairman and chief executive Alison Wenham said: “Universal are being forced to sell the crown jewels of EMI following their misjudged attempt to persuade the EC that there would be no competition concerns.
"We congratulate the EC on a very diligent and thorough investigation, and now urge the Commission to continue to oversee the divestment programme, to ensure that competition is preserved in the music industry for the benefit of artists and consumers, independents and digital companies. We want to see the independent sector strengthened, not weakened by the divestments and will continue to actively campaign to ensure this happens."