June 25, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Justice Department sues to split Ticketmaster and Live Nation, alleges ‘monopoly control’

Justice Department sues to split Ticketmaster and Live Nation, alleges ‘monopoly control’

Washington (AFP) – Ministry of Justice A sweeping antitrust lawsuit was filed against Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation Entertainment on Thursday, accusing them of running an illegal monopoly on live events in America — crushing competition and raising prices for fans.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, is brought before 30 state and district attorneys general and seeks to break up a monopoly that they say squeezes small promoters, hurts artists and showers fans with endless fees.

“It’s time for fans and artists to stop paying the price for Live Nation’s monopoly.” Attorney General Merrick Garland He said Thursday. “It’s time to restore competition and innovation to the entertainment industry. It’s time to break up Live Nation, Ticketmaster. And the American people are ready.”

The Justice Department accused Live Nation of a slew of tactics — including threats and retaliation — that Garland said allowed the entertainment giant to “stifle competition” by maintaining a stronghold in nearly every aspect of the industry, from concert promotion to ticketing. The prosecutor said the impact on consumers appears in an “endless list of fees charged to fans.”

“Live music should not only be available to those who can pay the Ticketmaster tax,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “We are here today to fight for competition so we can reopen the doors to the live music industry for everyone.”

Live Nation has denied for years that it is violating antitrust laws and said Thursday that the lawsuit “will not resolve the issues fans care about regarding ticket prices, service fees, and access to on-demand shows.”

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“Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly might be a PR win for the DOJ in the short term, but it would lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment,” Live Nation added, noting that most of the service fees go to and outside of venues. Competition has steadily “eroded” Ticketmaster’s market share. The company said it would defend itself “against these baseless allegations” and push for other reforms.

The Justice Department said Live Nation’s anti-competitive practices include using long-term contracts to prevent venues from choosing competing tickets, preventing venues from using multiple ticket resellers and threatening venues that they could lose money and fans if they do not choose Ticketmaster. The Justice Department says Live Nation also threatened to retaliate against a company if it did not prevent an affiliate from competing for artist promotion contracts.

The lawsuit is the latest example of the Biden administration’s aggressive approach to antitrust enforcement that targets companies accused of engaging in illegal monopolies that exclude competitors and drive up prices. In March, the Ministry of Justice File a lawsuit against Apple Claiming that the tech giant has monopoly power Smartphone market. The Democratic administration also attacked Google, Amazon and other tech giants.

Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation in 2010, is the world’s largest ticket seller. The company said during its annual report last month that Ticketmaster distributed more than 620 million tickets through its systems in 2023.

About 70% of tickets for major concert venues in the United States are sold through Ticketmaster, according to data contained in a federal lawsuit filed by consumers in 2022. The company owns or controls more than 265 concert venues in North America and dozens of major amphitheaters, According to the Ministry of Justice.

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The ticket seller sparked outrage in November 2022 when His site crashed during a pre-sale event for Taylor Swift’s stadium tour. The company said its site was overwhelmed by fan numbers and bot attacks, which were posing as consumers to obtain tickets and sell them on secondary sites. The disaster led to congressional hearings and bills in state legislatures aimed at better protecting consumers.

The Justice Department allowed Live Nation and Ticketmaster to merge as long as Live Nation agreed not to retaliate against concert venues for using other ticket companies for 10 years. In 2019, the department investigated and found that Live Nation had “repeatedly” violated that agreement and extended its ban on retaliation against concert venues through 2025.

Ticketmaster has frequently clashed with artists and fans over the years. Pearl Jam targeted the company in 1994, although the Justice Department ultimately declined to bring a case. Recently, Bruce Springsteen fans were angered by rising ticket costs due to the platform’s dynamic pricing system.

Ticketmaster has also had disputes with its industry competitors. In 2015 StubHub It filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster and the Golden State Warriors, alleging that it unfairly required fans looking to resell tickets to use Ticketmaster’s resale exchange. StubHub alleged in the lawsuit that the organizations prevented fans from deciding how they wanted to resell tickets and artificially raised ticket prices.

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Grantham Phillips reported from New York. AP reporters Michelle Chapman and Maria Sherman from New York also contributed.