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Michael Rapino says Live Nation decree faces ‘misconceptions’

Live Nation president Michael Rapino said the consent decree that governs its merger with Ticketmaster “gets a lot of misconception.”

The concert promoter has operated under the Department of Justice’s consent decree since 2010, when the two firms merged. It bars Live Nation from withholding concerts and tours from buildings that do not use Ticketmaster, or retaliating when venues go with a competitor.

The decree has been a hot topic of late due to its imminent expiration date of July 2020, which has led Senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobucher to request the Department of Justice “investigate the state of competition in the ticketing industry” and potentially extend the consent decree past July 2020.

At Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference in New York on Wednesday, Rapino was asked to discuss the “state of competition in the ticketing market,” Variety reports.

He responded by saying he would “try to give the facts” adding that the decree he negotiated “gets a lot of misconception.”

Rapino continued: “We’re eight-plus years into the decree, and with 30,000 shows a year and 30,000 employees, you can imagine all the emails flying around. Every now and then one of our competitors runs to the DOJ and says ‘We lost the Kansas City venue, [Ticketmaster] threatened!’ We get an inquiry from the DOJ, ‘Hey, can we get some emails from over the years,’ they’ve done it and we’ve never found anything wrong. We’re very compliant, we understand it clearly — trust me, after eight years and all those emails, if you weren’t compliant, with your competitors playing that game, you’d have been exposed as being in violation long ago.

“With all the recent press about the senators’ requests, there’s no new litigation, no new claims, no new anything.

“We generally win … business because of the strong value proposition we provide. When we win a venue in Kansas City or L.A., where we took over a venue from a competitor, of course they’re going to run to the DOJ. But we’re too smart for that, we’re very clear on what we can and can’t do.”

The letter to the DOJ from Senators Blumenthal and Klobuchar said: “The consent decree has been criticised as ineffective, and there have been disturbing reports that Live Nation has flouted its conditions.” It added that the soon-to-expire deal leaves “Live Nation’s dominance virtually unchallenged.

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced it is “looking into violations” by the ticketing and live entertainment giants.