Final Word from Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Eleven years ago, representatives of Czech record companies got together and agreed to raise CD prices by up to 70%. The antitrust office didn't pay them any attention, and for the next decade record prices were out of reach of the average Czech. Piracy quickly claimed half the market. Music sales in the CR fell by 26% last year and another 12% in the first half of 2003. However, unit sales are now slowly on the rise again, because of lower prices. Discounting aimed at combating piracy has brought some CD prices, including VAT, to below the tax-free rate on Bonton again cut prices in recent weeks on many back-catalog titles. The problem, though, is that few consumers know it, because they quit visiting record stores long ago. In retrospect, the record companies might have been better off if the antitrust office had blocked their price hike 11 years ago.


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