~ Check concludes settlement over alleged price fixing of CDs ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL – LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Attorney General Bill McCollum today presented a check for more than $265,000 to Commissioner of Education Jeanine Blomberg from a price fixing settlement handled by the Attorney General’s Office.
The settlement originated from a lawsuit alleging that music retailers and distributors had conspired to increase the price consumers paid for compact discs. The funds will be used to purchase equipment to supplement music education programs for Florida elementary schools.
“Today, we have made a difference in the lives of young Florida school children by encouraging the development of a love of music,” said Attorney General McCollum. “These funds will encourage the further development of music education programs and will be a direct benefit to schools across our state.”
In 2002, the Attorney General’s Antitrust Division reached settlements with five of the largest distributors of prerecorded music and three major retailers, resolving allegations that they conspired to artificially inflate the cost of CDs. Distributors Bertelsmann Music Group Inc., EMI Music Distribution, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corp., Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and Universal Music Group Inc., as well as retail chains Trans World Entertainment Corp., MTS Inc./Tower Records and Musicland Stores Corp., each entered into a national settlement with all 50 states.
The Florida and New York Attorneys General led the multistate case.
The settlements required the companies to pay $67.3 million toward consumer refunds and case costs and to provide $75 million in free compact discs. Florida’s share of the free CDs, distributed in 2004, was valued at more than $4 million. The check presented to the Department of Education represents Florida’s portion of the remaining settlement funds.
The funds are to be allocated to Florida’s Title I elementary schools where more than 75 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs and a full time music specialist is on staff. There are approximately 380 schools that will qualify for the funding and be eligible to receive technology equipment to enhance their music programs. The Florida Music Education Association (FMEA) will work with the schools to determine the equipment most needed, including speaker systems, video camera, iPods and keyboards with a musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), and FMEA will be responsible for making the necessary purchases.
“I’m thrilled to accept these funds on behalf of music programs across the state,” said Commissioner Blomberg. “The money will be distributed to more than 380 elementary schools where it will serve to enhance existing music programs through new technology and instrument purchases.”
Speaking together at the check presentation, Attorney General McCollum and Commissioner Blomberg emphasized the importance of providing children with music education. Statistics have shown that music training dramatically enhances children’s abstract reasoning skills necessary for learning math and science. Additionally, young children with developed rhythm skills perform better academically in early school years. Both officials expressed their appreciation that the settlement funds would now be used across the state to directly benefit Florida’s young school children.