Apple is being investigated by the European Union’s Executive Commission after a British consumer watchdog group claimed the company has unfairly priced songs from its iTunes Music Store. Apple sells music through online stores in the U.K. and a dozen other European countries.
A spokesman for the European Commission
told Reuters that an investigation is underway, and said that it had made “informal requests” to Apple. The spokesman described the investigation as “at the early stages.”
In September, British consumer watchdog group Consumers’ Association, publishers of Which? magazines and books, complained that iTunes users in the U.K.
paid more for music than iTunes users in France and Germany. France and Germany’s iTunes Music Stores are both priced at 99 Euro cents (US$1.31), while the U.K. store costs 79 pence (US$1.51) per song. The group referred their complaint to Britain’s Office of Fair Trading, which then referred the case to the European Union’s Executive Commission.
Although the U.K. still uses the British pound as its currency, Consumers’ Group noted in a statement that UK consumers are still “supposed to enjoy the same benefits of the single market as other citizens of member states.”
In defense of its actions at the time, Apple explained that it adjusts the price of music in each country according to “the underlying economic model.”
“We believe the real comparison to be made is with the price of other track downloads in the UK,” said Apple in a statement.