The us Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly looking into the 2010 merger of then promoter Live Nation (LN) and Ticketmaster (TM) – to form Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) – over possible antitrust violations, according to The New York Times (TNYT).
The merger was opposed by many at the time, but federal officials felt it “would boost competition and block monopolistic behaviour by the new, larger Live Nation” reports TNYT.
“There will be enough air and sunlight in this space for strong competitors to take root, grow and thrive,” said the country’s top antitrust regulator Assistant Attorney General Christine A Varney, in 2010.
She also suggested that reduced ticket service fees and lower ticket prices could be forthcoming.
The newspaper says the opposite turned out to be the case, ticket prices and service fees rose significantly, while LNE became even larger with 30,000 concerts a year, owning or managing over 200 venues and managing 500-plus artistes, in addition to TM expanding both its primary and secondary ticketing activities.
Multi-venue owner and promoter AEG, LNE’s main competitor in concert promotion, venues and ticketing, is understood to have advised DOJ officials that venues it manages in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Louisville, and Oakland, were told by LNE employees that they would lose valuable shows if TM was not used as the ticket vendor, which is a possible violation of antitrust law, says TNYT.
“Live Nation and Ticketmaster do not condition the placement of concerts at venues on becoming the venue’s ticketing provider,” says LNE in a statement.
TM president Jared Smith commented in part on his blog, “Unfortunately, that is not what some of our competitors, including AEG, want you to believe.
“They have been telling anyone who will listen that the reason they often lose to Ticketmaster is not because we have worked hard to create better products and add new services, but because we threaten venues with a loss of Live Nation content if they do not pick Ticketmaster as their ticketing partner.
“It is absolutely against Live Nation and Ticketmaster policy to threaten venues that they won’t get any Live Nation shows if they don’t use Ticketmaster.”