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CMA clears Isle of Wight Festival takeover

The regulator has ruled Live Nation will still face "sufficient competition" in the UK festival market following its acquisition of John Giddings' Isle of Wight Festival

By Jon Chapple on 14 Sep 2017

Isle of Wight Festival 2017, atmosphere, Live Nation CMA investigation

image © Caitlin Molton for Isle of Wight Festival

The Consumer and Markets Authority (CMA) has cleared Live Nation’s acquisition of a majority stake in Isle of Wight Festival, finding the deal does “not raise competition concerns” and that British consumers will “continue to be able to choose between festivals owned by Live Nation and a variety of competing festivals”.

The competition watchdog opened an investigation into the merger in April following complaints from unnamed “third parties”.

Announcing its decision today, CMA – a British government department responsible for preventing anti-competitive corporate behaviour – says its evidence indicates “Isle of Wight festival and Live Nation’s existing festivals were not competing particularly closely for customers. After the merger, people will continue to be able to choose between festivals owned by Live Nation and a variety of competing festivals.”

It further notes that customers can “choose between going to a festival and other activities”, ensuring “Live Nation continues to face sufficient competition” in the live events space.

The investigation – for which CMA sought the views of a number of “sector experts”, including promoters and industry bodies, and Isle of Wight Festival customers – further examined whether the acquisition would allow Live Nation to stop rival promoters from being able to book artists of their choice.

“Isle of Wight festival and Live Nation’s existing festivals were not competing particularly closely for customers”

Its conclusion is that “the merger will not materially strengthen Live Nation’s position in booking artists, and that a sufficient range and quality of artists will continue to be available for rival organisers of live music events.”

A separate inquiry into Live Nation’s alleged dominance of the UK festival market was requested last month by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), although CMA has not yet signalled any intention to act on AIF’s appeal.

AIF’s Paul Reed says it is “disappointing that CMA has not taken the opportunity to broaden the scope of the investigation into Live Nation’s overall position”, which he describes as having “tentacles across all aspects of the business”. “The question is, how many festivals do Live Nation need to acquire before CMA take this seriously and give the issues the proper scrutiny they deserve?” he asks.

Around 42,000 people are thought to have attended Isle of Wight 2017, which was headlined by Rod Stewart, Arcade Fire and David Guetta and Run-DMC.
 


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