June 25, 2024

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US plans to accuse Live Nation of defending monopoly

US plans to accuse Live Nation of defending monopoly

The Justice Department and a group of states plan to sue Live Nation Entertainment, the concert giant that owns Ticketmaster, on Thursday, accusing it of illegally maintaining a monopoly in the live entertainment industry, three people familiar with the matter said.

The government plans to argue in a lawsuit that Live Nation consolidated its power through Ticketmaster’s exclusive ticketing contracts with concert venues, as well as the company’s dominance of concert tours and other businesses such as venue management, said two of the people, who declined to be identified. . It was named because the lawsuit was still private. That helped the company maintain a monopoly, raise prices and fees for consumers, limit innovation in the ticket industry and hurt competition, the people said.

The government will argue that tours promoted by the company are more likely to play at venues where Ticketmaster was the exclusive ticketing service, one of the people said, and that Live Nation artists have played at venues it owns.

Live Nation is a giant in the concert world and a force in the lives of musicians and fans alike. Its size and reach far exceed that of any competitor, including concert promotion, ticketing, artist management and operation of hundreds of venues and festivals around the world.

The Ticketmaster division alone sells 600 million tickets annually to events around the world. By some estimates, it handles ticketing for 70% to 80% of major concert venues in the United States.

Lawmakers, fans and competitors have accused the company of engaging in practices that harm competitors and lead to higher ticket prices and fees. At a congressional hearing early last year, because a preview of Taylor Swift’s tour on Ticketmaster left millions of people unable to buy tickets, senators from both parties described Live Nation as a monopoly.

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The company has to reject They set high prices and fees, saying artists and other parties such as major venues are responsible.

A Justice Department spokeswoman and a Live Nation spokeswoman declined to comment. Bloomberg News previously reported that a lawsuit was imminent. The lawsuit is expected to be filed in the Southern District of New York, two people familiar with the matter said.

In recent years, US regulators have filed lawsuits against other major companies, testing century-old antitrust laws against the new power that big companies exercise over consumers. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Apple in March, arguing that the company made it difficult for customers to get rid of its devices, and has already filed two cases alleging that Google violated antitrust laws. The Federal Trade Commission last year filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon for harming sellers on its platform, and is seeking another suit against Meta, in part over its acquisitions of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp.

The Justice Department allowed Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, to buy Ticketmaster in 2010 under certain conditions set forth in a legal agreement. If venues didn’t use Ticketmaster, for example, Live Nation wouldn’t be able to threaten to pull concert tours.

However, in 2019, the Department of Justice found that Live Nation had violated those terms and amended and expanded the agreement.

The Justice Department’s most recent investigation into Live Nation began in 2022. Live Nation has simultaneously ramped up its lobbying efforts, spending $2.4 million on federal lobbying in 2023, up from $1.1 million in 2022, according to filings available through its website. The nonpartisan website OpenSecrets.

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In April, the company co-hosted a lavish party in Washington ahead of the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner that included a performance by country singer Jelly Roll and cocktail napkins. Show positive facts About Live Nation’s impact on the economy, like the billions it says it pays to artists.

Under pressure from the White House, Live Nation said in June it would begin offering prices for shows at venues it owns that include all fees, including surcharges. The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a rule that would ban hidden fees.

Bill Kovacic, the committee’s former chairman, said Wednesday that the lawsuit against the company would be a rebuke to previous antitrust officials who allowed the company to grow to its current size.

β€œIt’s another way of saying that the previous policy failed and failed miserably,” he said.