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Merlin will continue to oppose Universal/EMI merger

By | Published on Wednesday 18 July 2012


Talking of the Naïve boss, two bodies representing the independent sector yesterday reaffirmed their opposition to Universal’s EMI bid, despite the Virgin-acquisition-hungry Zelnik coming out in support of the deal in an opinion piece for the Financial Times, and despite claims in Music Week that a sizable number of indie label execs shared Zelnik’s views.

As previously reported, Zelnik is co-President of pan-European indie label trade body IMPALA, which has been lobbying hard against the proposed EMI/Universal label merger. And yesterday the Executive Director of that body insisted that her organisation’s stand on the EMI deal remained the same, despite some disagreements between its members.

Helen Smith told CMU: “Our board took a clear decision yesterday to continue its opposition to the Universal/EMI merger, rejecting remedies which do not deal with the specific problems set out in the EC’s statement of objections. The issue isn’t just digital, it’s physical and access to media-exposure for new artists, as well as the foreclosure of independents when it comes to signing artists. We all respect Patrick Zelnik’s view, but the FT article is the Naïve position, not the IMPALA position”.

Meanwhile, the board of the body that represents numerous larger indie labels in the digital domain worldwide, Merlin, also voted to maintain its opposition to the deal and, unlike IMPALA, where there was seemingly dissenters when the matter was put to a vote, the digital rights body says its board was unanimous in agreeing to continue to oppose Universal’s big bid.

Merlin CEO Charles Caldas told CMU: “In a market already hampered by Universal’s exploitation of its market leading position, this proposed acquisition could only serve to damage the digital ecosystem, not only for our members, but also for potential investors and consumers”.

He continued: “The Merlin board’s latest decision underlines that we remain committed to our belief that the proposed deal would put even more power in the hands of the company already most likely to try and shape music services to its own advantage and would severely damage the digital music market just as it approaches the crucial tipping point where digital takes over from physical. We trust and believe that the European Union and US regulators reviewing this transaction understand the devastating impact this transaction would have on the digital music market and will act accordingly”.

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