October 16, 2018 / 6:18 PM / a month ago

EU regulators ask Sony's rivals and users how it might use power after EMI deal

Sony Corp's logo is seen at its news conference in Tokyo, Japan November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators reviewing Sony Corp’s $2.3 billion bid for EMI are asking rivals and users whether they think the Japanese group would use its greater market power to win better terms in digital media deals.

Announced in May, the move would make Sony the world’s largest music publisher, with rights to 2.1 million songs from artists such as Drake, Sam Smith, Pharrell Williams and Sia.

The explosion of fixed-price music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, SoundCloud and YouTube has rejuvenated the music industry.

In a questionnaire sent to rivals and customers and seen by Reuters, the European Commission asks them if they think Sony would use its merged power in its publishing and recording catalogs to get better deals.

The EU competition enforcer also asks whether Sony will favor publishing over recording in its quest for revenues, and how it would negotiate with societies which collect royalties for artists and musicians.

The Commission also asks about the impact on online music streaming services. It is scheduled to decide on the deal by Oct. 26.

The Sony bid has drawn criticism from independent music labels group Impala and the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Andrew Roche

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