EU cuts deal with Apple on iTunes

Apple will scrap its iTunes pricing policies across Europe and charge consumers in Britain and the rest of Europe the same for music downloads, the company and the European Union, quoted by an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Apple charges about $0.09 more per song in Britain compared with prices in nations that use the euro. The company said it has to pay more to record companies in Britain for distribution rights.

The maker of the popular iPod media players had been under investigation since April by EU authorities after a British consumer group complained that Apple and major record companies were unfairly restricting choice and ramping up the cost of downloads, the report said.

The Associated Press report quoted the European Commission as saying that it had closed an antitrust probe into iTunes ties with record labels after finding no evidence that EU laws were broken. However, the EU said some copyright issues involving Apple remain.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes welcomed the agreement, saying it would 'allow consumers to benefit from a truly single market for music downloads' across the 27-nation bloc, the report said.

Apple said it will lower prices for music on its British iTunes site within six months to match prices charged at 16 iTunes stores across Europe and 'reconsider' ties with companies that do not lower wholesale prices in the UK during that same period, according to the report.