EU Resumes SonyBMG Antitrust Investigation; Online Could Play Bigger Part

The European Commission has resumed its antitrust investigation in to the merger of Sony Music and BMG after the task of preparing paper work earlier proved so onerous it stopped the clock. A court last year overturned the wave-through the commission gave to the 50/50 deal in 2004, arguing it had not properly reasoned there was no music industry monopoly. But the new inquiry was paused in March thanks to the volume of sales data from across Europe the commission requested. The new deadline: October 10. The inquiry centers on whether collusion amongst the big four effectively keeps prices too high.

AP: “The EU’s executive arm is now reconsidering the deal using current market conditions, taking into account recent developments such as growing sales of online music.” Conceivably, this could have a bearing on efforts from Terra Firma and Warner Music Group to buy EMI, but WMG already appears fully aware of the risks in buying one of the remaining majors — the notion of performing contortions like off-loading it’s own music publishing division had already been mooted as one way to make regulatory approval more likely, before today’s announcement. Impala had already dropped its opposition to an EMI-WMG deal, but the pair will hope the resumed inquiry does not open a new can of worms.