Arriving a little late to the party, America’s House Of Representatives has sent a letter to Universal Music and its two major label competitors asking questions in relation to the mega-major’s bid to buy the EMI record company.
According to the New York Times, the letter, from the House Judiciary Subcommittee On Intellectual Property, Competition And The Internet, asks “pointed questions about how the merger would affect competition in the music industry”, including whether the music sector “has unique characteristics that may increase or reduce concerns”.
Universal’s EMI bid is being assessed by the Federal Trade Commission in the US, of course, though this isn’t the first time politicians have also shown an interest. As previously reported, in June congressmen in the Senate threw a spotlight onto the proposed acquisition with a very public hearing involving leading music industry execs both in favour of and against the deal. The Senate’s anti-trust subcommittee then sent a letter to the FTC outlining the issues as it saw them.
Congressional committees have no real power to block the big EMI deal, though in theory their opinions could influence the FTC. Perhaps more importantly, interest in the deal on Capitol Hill means even more public scrutiny for Universal’s expansion ambitions.
Nevertheless, the major welcomed the Representatives’ letter yesterday, saying: “We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions that the subcommittee may have. The global music market has been in decline for over a decade and it needs well invested music companies to continue to create and nurture artistic talent alongside a strong and growing independent sector if it is to thrive”.