×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Two Senators Call on Department of Justice to Investigate Live Nation, Ticketing Industry

Senators Richard Blumenthal of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are requesting a Department of Justice antitrust investigation into competition in the ticketing industry.

While the letter from Sens.  Blumenthal and Klobuchar of Minnesota asks Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general with the DOJ’s antitrust division, to look at the overall business, according to Billboard and the New York Times, there is little question that the target of the probe is Live Nation. The request stems from the 2010 Live Nation/ Ticketmaster merger that resulted in an online live-event ticket marketplace that the senators say is not working for consumers.

Live Nation/ Ticketmaster has operated under a consent decree that bars Live Nation from withholding concerts and tours from venues that do not use Ticketmaster and from retaliating when venues go with a competitor.

“The consent decree has been criticized as ineffective, and there have been disturbing reports that Live Nation has flouted its conditions,” the letter reads, leaving “Live Nation’s dominance virtually unchallenged.”

Blumenthal and Klobuchar ask the DOJ to “investigate the state of competition in the ticketing industry” and potentially extend the consent decree past July 2020.

“The Department of Justice should act to reinvigorate competition in the ticket market to help consumers,” the letter reads, and asks for the DOJ to “enforce the terms of the Ticketmaster-Live Nation consent decree, including the anti-retaliation merger conditions” and “not hesitate to seek appropriate remedies to ensure compliance with the merger conditions.”

In response, Variety obtained the following statement from Live Nation: “Unfortunately, the Senators’ letter is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of our consent decree and general ticketing industry dynamics.

“Ticketmaster has been successfully growing its client base over the past decade as a result of continuous innovation and providing the best ticketing solution in the industry. During that period, 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.

“Nevertheless, for years now some competitors have found it useful to confuse the issue with misinformation and baseless allegations of consent decree violations. These complaints have been investigated by the Department of Justice pursuant to its broad powers to monitor compliance with the decree.  There is no cause for further investigations or studies.”

However, it is unclear how successful such an investigation might be. Ticketmaster, which works with 80 of the top 100 venues in the country, has been under attack for allegedly monopolistic practices for many years. In June, Sen. Blumenthal and Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. and Frank Pallone, Jr. introduced the BOSS Act in an effort to bring more transparency to the ticketing business; last year Pascrell called on the DOJ to investigate “Ticketmaster corruption” and in April 2018 a New York Times article claimed that DOJ officials were “looking into serious accusations about Live Nation’s behavior in the marketplace.” The article said that AEG Presents, which is Live Nation’s chief competitor, told DOJ officials that venues it manages in the Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Oakland, Minneapolis, Louisville and Las Vegas areas “were told they would lose valuable shows if Ticketmaster was not used as a vendor, a possible violation of antitrust law.”

In a long response posted on the company’s website, Ticketmaster president Jared Smith said in part: “Ticketmaster continues to maintain its position as the clear industry leader. That leadership, however, is not the result of any unfair advantages resulting from being a part of Live Nation Entertainment as some are suggesting. … The New York Times article suggests that any benefits of being a vertically integrated company are, in and of themselves, anticompetitive. They insinuate that we “condition” content. That we “retaliate” when Ticketmaster is not selected as a venue’s ticketing partner. In short, they say we have stifled competition.

“The reality is that none of these things are true,” he continues.  “It is absolutely against Live Nation and Ticketmaster policy to threaten venues that they won’t get any Live Nation shows if they don’t use Ticketmaster. We also do not re-route content as retaliation for a lost ticketing deal. Live Nation is the most artist-focused company in the world, and misusing our relationship with artists to ‘settle scores’ with venues would be both bad business and counter to our core beliefs.”

More Biz

  • Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division nominee

    Justice Department Moves to End Paramount Antitrust Decrees

    The Department of Justice will seek to end the Paramount consent decrees, the landmark agreements that have barred studios from owning theaters for the last 70 years. Makan Delrahim, the head of the department’s antitrust division, made the announcement Monday in a speech to the American Bar Association fall forum on antitrust. He argued that [...]

  • Viacom HQ LA

    ViacomCBS Sets HR and Inclusion Chiefs

    ViacomCBS has named corporate heads of HR and inclusion as the companies prepare for the merger that is set to close early next month. The soon-to-combine Viacom and CBS have tapped Nielsen alum Nancy Phillips to serve as exec VP and chief people officer. Viacom alum Marva Smalls will serve as global head of inclusion, [...]

  • Sony Pictures Studio Culver City

    Sony Pictures Entertainment Buys AT&T's Stake in Game Show Network

    Sony Pictures Entertainment has bought out AT&T’s minority interest in Game Show Network for about $500 million. The deal makes Sony the sole owner of GSN. AT&T had owned 42% of the company, which the telco giant inherited with its purchase of DirecTV in 2015. AT&T has been on a mission this year to pay [...]

  • John Malone

    John Malone Boosts Stake in Discovery With $75 Million Stock Purchase

    John Malone has upped his stake in Discovery Inc. by purchasing $75 million worth of stock on the open market. Malone picked up just under 2.7 million shares in Discovery at $28.03 on Nov. 14, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Malone was already the company’s single-largest individual shareholder who holds super-voting shares [...]

  • the firt Motley Crue books Nikki

    Motley Crue to Tour in 2020?

    Even though Motley Crue signed a legal document confirming that their lucrative 2014-15 “Final Tour” would be their last, the group is plotting a trek in 2020, sources tell Variety. Rolling Stone reported today that Def Leppard and Poison will be joining the group for the tour, which it says will include stadiums; reps for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content