HITS Daily Double


EU Investigates Price-Fixing
Just when we thought we were done with the European Union for a while—barring some regulatory action on the BMG-EMI front—they bring up the very sexy topic of CD price-fixing.

Last May, on this side of the pond, the Big Five settled with the Federal Trade Commission when the FTC accused them of the very same thing—overcharging for CDs during the past five years, when minimum-advertised-pricing practices (MAP, for short) were in effect. The FTC was more than happy to let its peers in Europe know about the practice when the EMI-Time Warner merger was being reviewed by both groups.

CD prices are higher in Europe than over here, but that could be because they use currency like the lira. Did you know that one dollar equals 2,095.41 lira?

Where were we? Oh, yeah… The EU's European Commission will launch a cartel investigation, looking at contracts between music companies and European retailers. According to EC spokesperson Amelia Torres, the commission will be searching for evidence that "record companies are pursuing the same or very similar prices in Europe." Torres also said that the inquiry is in the early stages and the EC has no firm evidence of price-fixing.

And speaking of the EMI-BMG deal, the inevitable question is: With the EC taking a hard look at the record business in general, how will this scrutiny affect that proposed merger?