Indies Protest Universal ‘Monopoly’

The U.K.’s independent music businesses have called on the Office Of Fair Trading to halt Universal’s "creeping dominance" of the industry.

Responding to an OFT inquiry into the Paris-based company’s £7 million acquisition of Richard Branson’s V2 label, the Association Of Independent Music said the deal – along with the £44.5 million takeover of the U.K.’s Sanctuary Music Group – will further marginalise a vibrant independent sector, stifle competition and narrow consumer choice.

The submission to the OFT comes after years of continued market concentration, which has seen the independents’ share of retail decline from 40 percent to half that amount in the last 20 years.

It highlights the fact Universal, which is owned by French media giant Vivendi, frequently commands in excess of 40 percent of the weekly Top 75, which is already restricting the smaller companies’ market access.

It says the tying up of radio play and music TV slots, retail space, online visibility, TV, radio and print advertising makes it harder for independents to compete and enables consumers to see and hear less music through these key channels.