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DOJ amends Live Nation’s ticketing consent decree

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has agreed to extend and clarify the consent decree that allowed Live Nation to merge with Ticketmaster in 2010.

Under a proposed amended agreement, the decree, set to expire in July, would be extended to the end of 2025.

Live Nation has also been ordered to reimburse the DOJ for its costs in enforcing the regulations, though no fine has been imposed.

The consent decree allowed Live Nation and Ticketmaster 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. However, a DOJ investigation recently found that the live entertainment giant had repeatedly infringed the existing agreement.

The probe focused on complaints from competitors that Live Nation had used its dominance to force music venues into using its Ticketmaster subsidiary.

The DOJ has ruled that this behaviour violated the terms of the consent decree.

Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general who leads the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said: “Today’s enforcement action including the addition of language on retaliation and conditioning will ensure that American consumers get the benefit of the bargain that the US and Live Nation agreed to in 2010.

“Merging parties will be held to their promises and the Department will not tolerate transgressions that hurt the American consumer.”

Live Nation said: “We have reached an agreement in principle with the Department of Justice to extend and clarify the consent decree. We believe this is the best outcome for our business, clients and shareholders as we turn our focus to 2020 initiatives.”

The amended legal agreement would detail the restrictions that Live Nation cannot threaten venues into using its Ticketmaster services and may not retaliate to those that choose not to.

In addition, the DOJ would reportedly appoint an independent monitor to investigate and report on the firm’s behaviour, while Live Nation has also agreed to appoint an antitrust compliance officer.

Moving forward, any other violations would be met with a $1m “automatic penalty.”

The settlement comes after US Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota called for an investigation into competition in ticketing, pointing specifically to Live Nation and asking that the decree be extended.

Live Nation’s share price soared following the announcement, with investors satisfied the operator will not face further sanction following weeks of rumour.