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US justice department preparing legal action against Live Nation

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced it is preparing legal action against Live Nation for allegedly using its dominance to force concert venues to use Ticketmaster, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people close to the matter.

The DOJ reportedly believes that the live entertainment giant has violated its merger settlement it reached with the government in 2010 regarding its purchase of Ticketmaster.

The concert promoter has operated under a consent decree since 2010, which is 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 announcement follows the Senate anti-trust subcommittee in September, which featured testimony from the anti-trust heads of the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, Makan Delrahim the assistant attorney-general for the DOJ’s antitrust and competition division, said at the time that the department was “examining allegations of violations” of the consent decree that ruled the 2010 merger of the two industry giants.

Following the meeting, Live Nation and Ticketmaster replied in a statement: “As we have previously stated, 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.”

The consent decree allowed the firms to combine but required them to follow a range of conditions in order to keep consumer prices in check by preserving competition in the industry.

Live Nation does not believe it violated the agreement, people familiar with the matter told the WSJ.