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Live Nation counters senators’ call for US ticketing DOJ investigation

Live Nation has responded to the two US senators that have called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate competition in the American ticketing industry.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar said in a recent letter to assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim with the DOJ’s antitrust division that they have “serious concerns that online ticket markets are not working for American consumers.”

The letter covers the entire market, though specifically mentions Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster, which it merged with in 2010. The concert promoter has operated under a DOJ consent decree since then, set to expire in July 2020, that bars Live Nation from withholding concerts and tours from buildings that do not use Ticketmaster, or retaliating when venues go with a competitor.

“The consent decree has been criticised as ineffective, and there have been disturbing reports that Live Nation has flouted its conditions,” the letter reads, saying the soon-to-expire deal leaves “Live Nation’s dominance virtually unchallenged.”

Blumenthal and Klobuchar want 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,” reads the five-page letter, calling 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.”

Live Nation’s response reads, according to the Music Network: “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.”

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