EMI submits Warner offer to Brussels

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The Independent Online

Mario Monti, the European Competition Commissioner, yesterday said that rapid consolidation among media and internet companies could mean that regulators have to change the definition of market dominance.

Mario Monti, the European Competition Commissioner, yesterday said that rapid consolidation among media and internet companies could mean that regulators have to change the definition of market dominance.

Mr Monti's comments came shortly after his eleventh-hour meeting with EMI and Time Warner yesterday, as executives from the two companies, which are due to merge their music assets, offered a series of concessions in an attempt to get the deal approved by Brussels.

EMI claimed after the meeting that it had met all the Commission's concerns, although it offered no details. The EMI chairman, Eric Nicoli, and its head of recorded music, Ken Berry, as well as the Warner Music chairman, Roger Ames, and the Time Warner chairman, Richard Parsons, put their case to Mr Monti.

Speaking at a conference on anti-trust issues for technology businesses, Mr Monti said: "The competition problems posed by the internet may well require an analysis going beyond determinations of market definition and market structure.

"It may also be necessary to look at the structures of the industries, such as the music and publishing industries, to see whether the commercial interests of parties in maintaining the status quo is hampering the development of internet services."

One of the major objections from the Commission to the EMI-Time Warner deal is the dominant position the new company would have in music that can be downloaded from the internet. According to a Commission document leaked last week, Brussels is also concerned about the new company's dominant position in music publishing and recorded music.

An EMI source said: "The fact that there is contact at this stage means the proposed undertaking are serious and credible. We are in tune with the Commission. The final submission does not need to be substantially different from what was discussed with Monti."

Analysts said that if EMI and Time Warner had genuinely allayed the Commission's objections to the deal, the two companies must have offered far-reaching concessions, considering the depth of the concerns laid out in the leaked document.

The deadline for the final submission from the companies to the Commission is mid-night tonight. Brussels must rule by 18 October.

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