Euro MPs Question Sony-BMG Ruling

The European Parliament is to question the Commission on the second approval of the merger between Sony and BMG, following IMPALA’s complaint to the European Ombudsman.

The indies’ trade organisation claims there are "certain incoherencies" surrounding the decision, particularly how it can be justified in light of the EC’s policy of support for so-called SMEs – cultural small- and medium-sized enterprises.

"Artists and cultural SMEs need to be supported as they play a key role in fostering creativity and innovation as well as growth and employment in Europe. We must put cultural diversity at the heart of EU policy," said Guy Bono, the French MEP responsible for framing a written question to the Commision.

"The European Parliament is exercising democratic control over European institutions by interrogating the Commission on the Sony-BMG merger. Like many cultural sectors, music suffers from chronic concentration."

Bono, a member of the European Parliament’s Culture Committee currently responsible for its eagerly awaited report on the cultural industries, can expect a reply within the three-week deadline the EU allows.

It roughly coincides with the European Parliament’s November 20 public hearing on the cultural industries.

The EP’s question asks how the European Commission can justify its decision to allow the Sony-BMG merger without remedies in view of previous EU policy decisions on SMEs.

Among the examples it cites are the European Council confirming "the importance of SMEs in the cultural sector in view of their role as drivers of growth, job creation and innovation"; the UNESCO Convention, which underlines that "cultural diversity is manifested through the varied ways of artistic creation and production"; and even the Commission’s own communications on a European agenda for culture in a globalising world.

It also asks how the decision can be reconciled with previous cases in which the European Commission reiterated the necessity of introducing remedies to re-establish a competitive music market, as was done with EMI-Warner in 2000 and the 2007 Universal-BMG publishing decision.

"I am pleased to see that the European Parliament is interrogating the Commission on the Sony-BMG merger on behalf of thousands of entrepreneurs and artists across Europe," said IMPALA president Patrick Zelnik in a statement.

"We rely on the Parliament to ensure the Commission is held to answer. The question posed by Guy Bono clearly highlights many of the key concerns voiced by IMPALA in the aftermath of the decision."