In the wake of the recent ticketing debacle over pop star Taylor Swift, Washington is changing its tune on the 2010 merger of Live Nation Entertainment Inc. (LYV) and Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc.
For more than a decade, California-based Live Nation has been able to fend off accusations that its controversial $2.5 billion combination should be unwound because it cemented Ticketmaster’s grip over concerts, sports, theater and other events.
After Swifties inundated Ticketmaster with requests to purchase seats to her upcoming Eras Tour, forcing the service to cancel its planned Nov. 18 public sale, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, signaled that — this time around — Live Nation can’t just shake it off.
“I write to express serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers,” she wrote in a Nov. 16 letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, citing system failures, escalating fees and complaints of market power abuse.
“I have been skeptical of the combination of these companies since you merged in 2011, when the Senate held a hearing into the merger,” she said.
The Obama-era Department of Justice cleared the $2.5 billion combination of Live Nation, the world’s largest producer of live concerts, with Ticketmaster, the world’s biggest ticketing company, under a consent decree that prohibited the new entity from retaliating against concert venues for using alternative ticketing services.
Nine years later, in an unprecedented move, the Trump administration DOJ extended the consent decree by 5-1/2 years after concluding that Live Nation repeatedly violated those terms.
Now, the meltdown over tickets to Taylor Swift has ratcheted up the noise in Washington for the DOJ to seriously consider dismantling the Live Nation-Ticketmaster transaction.
A coalition of 13 nonprofits, led by the American Economic Liberties Project, an influential anti-monopoly group in Washington, launched a new website to agitate for the merger to be undone.
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