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Live Nation faces Justice Department action over ticketing practices

Ryan Faughnder and Anousha Sakoui, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Live Nation Entertainment, the world's largest concert promoter, is about to face Justice Department legal action over its ticketing practices.

The U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to take on the Beverly Hills-based live music giant over allegedly coercing concert venues into working with its Ticketmaster division, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Representatives for Live Nation and the Justice Department declined to comment Friday.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the impending action, which is expected to claim that Live Nation violated terms of its 2010 settlement with the government that allowed it to complete its controversial merger with Ticketmaster.

The settlement to clear the $889 million deal placed conditions on the company that officials said would ensure fair competition in the ticketing marketplace. For one thing, Live Nation was prohibited from retaliating against venue owners that decided to defect to competitors.

The combination of the two companies made Live Nation a colossus with tentacles in multiple areas of the music industry, including concert promotion, ticketing and artist management.

Despite the settlement provisions, critics of the deal feared that the merger would give the firm a stranglehold on ticket sales and other parts of the music business.

Ticketmaster has long faced criticism for the fees it charges consumers.

 

For example, the online ticket-selling start-up Songkick in 2015 filed a David-and-Goliath antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation, saying Ticketmaster has used its clout to try to "destroy competition" in the artist presale market.

The parties settled the dispute in 2018, in a deal that resulted in Live Nation buying some of Songkick's assets. In 2014, Ticketmaster agreed to issue $400 million in credits to ticket buyers to settle a class-action lawsuit over processing fees.

It wasn't immediately clear what terms the Justice Department would accuse Live Nation of violating in its action.

The 2010 settlement is expected to expire next year, but the Justice Department plans to ask the court to extend the conditions placed on Live Nation, the source said.

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