The Thicket of Tickets

That, and other news, in today’s Roundup and Recap.

Warranted or unwarranted, Ticketmaster doesn’t exactly draw Apple-like adulation among consumers, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise that politicians on Capitol Hill were not publicly coming to their defense as their merger with Live Nation needed approval.

But despite those handicaps, the two companies did obtain clearance from regulators on Monday, subject to conditions, and the merger was greeted with what could be characterized as guarded approval among some lawmakers and some consumer advocates.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, who had expressed major doubts about the pact, issued a statement today saying that “we are hopeful that the Justice Department’s conditions on the merger will achieve our goal of preserving genuine competition.” He added that the committee will “stay involved to make sure that the Jusitce Department strictly enforces their terms of this settlement to ensure that consumers truly benefit.”

Sally Greenberg, exec director of the National Consumers league, which had sponsored a campaign to block the merger, said, that they “appreciate the efforts of the DOJ to extract meaningful concessions from the parties, we remain concerned that these two companies, with a history of anti-consumer behavior, will abide only by the letter, and not the spirit of the settlement agreement.” She added that the DOJ’s conditions still leave issues unresolved, like Ticketmaster’s foray into the secondary ticketing market and its moves to use paperless tickets.

What does this say about the Obama administration’s attitude toward antitrust? As of now, it’s in the eye of the beholder, with some observers expressing surprise that the Ticketmaster-Live Nation deal went through, and others noting that the new company will have a heavy level of scrutiny foisted upon it under a tough set of conditions.

What is the concert goers’ reactions? You can get a sense of it here, in the comments section. It’s not exactly a lot of faith that ticket prices will go down…or in the process.

The latest Funny or Die video features President Obama’s reaction to the Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for corporations to pay for ads touting (or attacking) political candidates.


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