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CMA sides with AEG over O2 block booking

The AEG-Azoff MSG 'booking war' looks set to continue after the UK's competition watchdog declined to investigate a Live Nation-brought complaint

By IQ on 05 Dec 2017

The O2, London, AEG, CMA, block booking

image © Hynek Moravec

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has reportedly dismissed Live Nation’s complaint against AEG over its block booking of The O2 in London and Staples Center in Los Angeles, telling the former company it does not intend to open an investigation on competition grounds.

The complaint, lodged in August, related to AEG’s tit-for-tat ‘booking war’ with Azoff MSG Entertainment, led by former Live Nation executive chairman Irving Azoff, over a booking policy that forces artists who want to perform at AEG’s European venues, particularly the 20,000-cap. O2 Arena, to also play Staples Center (21,000-cap.) rather than MSG’s LA Forum (17,500-cap.).

Live Nation shops AEG to CMA – amid thaw in booking war?

According to AEG, the implementation of block booking between The O2 (pictured) and Staples Center was in response to Azoff MSG’s “aggressive practice of requiring artists to perform at the LA Forum in order to secure dates at Madison Square Garden” in New York – something denied by Azoff, who says both MSG and the Forum are open to anyone.

According to Billboard’s Dave Brooks, the CMA contacted both AEG and Live Nation last week to inform them it did not plan to investigate the complaint, as the dispute began in California and should be settled there.

“Following their consideration of Live Nation’s complaint regarding our joint booking policy, we can confirm that the UK Competition Authority [Competition and Markets Authority] has decided not to open an investigation,” says an AEG spokesperson. “We are pleased with the CMA’s decision – it is the conclusion we always expected them to reach.”


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