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Live Nation-Ticketmaster consent decree extended

The US district court for the District of Columbia (Washington DC) has issued a judgment extending the ‘consent decree’ governing the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster for a further five and a half years.

Live Nation reached a settlement extending the decree with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in December, following a DOJ investigation into alleged anti-competitive business practices.

The DOJ alleges Live Nation has violated provisions of the decree – which, among other things, requires Ticketmaster to license its ticketing software to competitors – on multiple occasions over the past decade. The claims are strenuously denied by Live Nation, which says the North American ticketing market is more competitive now than ever.

As a result of the court judgment, Live Nation will pay the DOJ’s costs, as well as fees for monitoring and enforcement of the decree through 2025.

“We strongly disagree with the DOJ’s allegations in the filing and the conclusions they seek to draw”

Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney-general in the DOJ’s antitrust (competition) division, says: “The amended decree reimburses the American people millions of dollars and makes it easier for the antitrust division and state enforcers to identify and prosecute future transgressions.”

“Live Nation settled this matter to make clear that it has no interest in threatening or retaliating against venues that consider or choose other ticketing companies,” said a Live Nation spokesperson in a statement issued on 9 January.

“We strongly disagree with the DOJ’s allegations in the filing and the conclusions they seek to draw from six isolated episodes among some 5,000 ticketing deals negotiated during the life of the consent decree. [In a court filing earlier this month, DOJ lawyers submitted evidence they allege shows instances in which six venues were told Live Nation would stop booking acts there if they used a ticketing company other than Ticketmaster.]

“Nevertheless, in keeping with our decision to settle, our focus is now on bringing this matter to its conclusion and continuing to deliver the best live event experiences to fans everywhere.”

Photo: Phyzome/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 


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Live Nation refutes DOJ antitrust allegations

Live Nation and Ticketmaster have hit back at allegations their business practices are in violation of the ‘consent decree’ that governed the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

At a Senate antitrust subcommittee hearing yesterday (17 September), Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney-general for the US Department of Justice (DOJ)’s antitrust, or competition, division, said the DOJ is “examining allegations of violations” of the decree – which, among other provisions, required Ticketmaster to license its ticketing software to competitors including AEG (an offer AEG reportedly never took up) and offload its then-subsidiary Paciolan.

The consent decree attracted renewed attention last year when a New York Times article, ‘Live Nation rules music ticketing, some say with threats’, reported that the DOJ was looking into “serious accusations about Live Nation’s behaviour in the marketplace”, including “complaints that Live Nation, which manages 500 artists, including U2 and Miley Cyrus, has used its control over concert tours to pressure venues into contracting with its subsidiary, Ticketmaster.”

Responding to the Times’s article, Ticketmaster’s North American president, Jared Smith, asserted that the ticketing market in the US today is “far more competitive than ever”, and that Ticketmaster remains the market leader “because we have worked hard to create better products and add new services”.

“We do not force anyone into ticketing agreements by leveraging content”

Delrahim (pictured) yesterday declined to elaborate on his findings, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Commenting on the DOJ investigation, Ticketmaster and Live Nation say in a joint statement: “As we have previously stated, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have always complied with their obligations under the consent decree.

“We do not force anyone into ticketing agreements by leveraging content, and we do not retaliate against venues that choose other ticketing providers.”

The antitrust hearing primarily focused on the big tech firms, including Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Alphabet (Google).

 


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