iTunes promises cheaper music downloads

Family of ipods

British music lovers will be able to download cheaper music from iTunes after Apple promised an end to price discrimination in the UK.

iTunes users in UK currently pay around 20% more to download songs than users in Europe, where standardised pricing exists. Apple says price discrimination is the fault of some record labels which demand more money for UK distribution.

But in 2005 the European Commission launched an investigation into disparate prices after Which? made a complaint to the Office of Fair Trading.

Apple now says it will stop dealing with record labels that refuse to lower their wholesale prices for UK distribution and has given them a six month window to introduce “pan-European” pricing.

Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple, says: “This is an important step towards a pan-European marketplace for music.

“We hope every major record label will take a pan-European view of pricing.”

Chris Warner, a lawyer for Which?, welcomed the news as a victory for music lovers.

He says: "We hope other internet companies – including online music companies - will follow Apple’s lead and match UK prices to prices in continental Europe.”

And Neelie Kroes, the Competition Commissioner at the European Commission, says: "The Commission is very much in favour of solutions which allow consumers to benefit from a truly single market for music downloads."


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