CD price up after piracy victory

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 July, 1997, 12:00am

Record companies are moving to increase the price of CDs just days after a new law gave them stronger powers to restrict competition.

Retailers fear that the Copyright Ordinance, which the Government claims is a breakthrough in the fight against pirates, is also being used to raise the price of the genuine article.

Music giant EMI, whose artists include Faye Wong Ching-man and Cass Phang Ling, is adding $8 to the wholesale price of CDs on August 1.

The firm was not available for comment. Retail prices for most CDs vary between $98 and $120.

Karl Li Chi-kau, sales director of Warner Music Hong Kong, whose artists include Sammi Cheng Sau-man, Aaron Kwok Fu-shing and Madonna, said it was also considering a price rise.

The two firms supply almost half the CDs in the territory.

One retailer said: 'What is next? The law is only a few weeks old.' The ordinance, which came into force on June 27, means retailers can no longer buy CDs from wholesalers overseas and sell them in Hong Kong, so-called 'parallel imports'.

Instead, they have to buy them from the local agent, irrespective of the price or the time taken.

Philip Kung Yue-fei, regional managing director of HMV, Hong Kong's largest CD retailer, said the timing of the rises was 'unfortunate'.

'We are 100 per cent supportive of the Government and the record labels in their fight against piracy,' he said. 'The problem for us is that it has spilled over into parallel imports being classified as infringing copies.' Mr Kung said some CDs were disappearing from shelves until new supply deals were set up locally with more than 100 labels.

In some cases this was proving difficult, he said. He added it was too early to say whether this meant higher prices or some CDs disappearing from shelves forever.

Sonya Ho-Asjoe, general manager for Sony Music Entertainment HK, said some CDs, mostly compilations, would become unavailable because the creators of the compilation had not got permission to release them here.

'But it means we will see more local compilations,' she said.

Her firm has no plans to raise prices and she said it was committed to providing stores with all the CDs it could supply, even one-off orders of minority tastes.