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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
UK music fans enjoy Euro prices
CDs on sale
CD prices in the UK have fallen during recent years
UK music fans are no longer being forced to pay more for CDs than their European neighbours, a report has suggested.

The findings came as a government inquiry cleared major record companies of keeping prices in the UK high by blocking cheap imports.

But the record companies have employed price-fixing tactics in the past, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has said.

Average price of a CD album in the UK
2002 - 10.65
2001 - 10.86
2000 - 11.22
Source: BPI
"There isn't any strong evidence to suggest that the prices are any higher here than they are in the rest of Europe," a spokesman for the OFT told BBC News Online.

In a study of the prices of top CDs in the UK, France and Germany, the OFT found that the UK was higher - but only slightly.

Of 16 albums that featured on both the UK and French charts, eight were more expensive in the UK and eight in France.

Of 20 on the UK and German charts, 12 were more expensive in the UK and eight in Germany.


The major record companies must not create barriers to international competition that harm British consumers

Office of Fair Trading
Two previous studies - in 2000 and 2001 - had found that UK prices were "significantly" higher than the rest of Europe and the United States.

The average cost of a CD in the UK is now 10.65, according to trade body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

That figure has fallen from 11.22 over the last two years.

The OFT began investigating the music industry in 2000 after a complaint that UK record companies were keeping prices artificially high.

They found that record companies made anti-competitive agreements with shops not to sell cheap imports - but that these practices had now stopped.


We can only hope that the regulatory authorities will now allow British record companies to concentrate on producing great British music

British Phonographic Industry
The music industry was warned that it could be punished if the practices began again.

A fine of up to 10% of UK turnover can be imposed by the OFT on record companies.

"The major record companies - an international showcase for British talent - must not create barriers to international competition that harm British consumers," said John Vickers, director general of Fair Trading.

"Free competition is the way forward, and the industry is on notice that the OFT will act if anti-competitive agreements are found in the future."

The BPI welcomed the fact that no action would immediately be taken against record companies - but described the investigation as "time-consuming, costly and ultimately unproductive".

"We can only hope that the regulatory authorities will now allow British record companies to concentrate on producing great British music for our own and the international market," a statement said.

See also:

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