Universal Music Group and EMI look set to face a detailed European Commission investigation into UMG’s proposed acquisition of EMI’s recorded music division – and the impact on digital music services is the key reason. The Financial Times reports that EC competition officials have privately expressed “serious doubts” over the impact of the proposed merger. As the piece notes: ‘Competition officials are paying close attention to the power of an enlarged Universal on digital music services such as Apple’s iTunes and Spotify. The concern is that Universal’s clout could drive up prices or pose an obstacle to digital newcomers.’ The pressure on UMG thus goes beyond its plans to sell off assets, and focuses on its future licensing strategy. The FT quotes influential manager Brian Message’s concern last week that UMG-EMI might have a “blocking right” on new digital services due to the size of its catalogue.

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