Report: DOJ Taking a Hard Look at Ticketmaster's Parent

Live Nation will likely face federal antitrust suit over its dominance of live events market
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2024 7:34 AM CDT
Report: Ticketmaster's Parent to Face Federal Antitrust Suit
Ticketmaster tickets and gift cards are shown at a box office in San Jose, Calif., May 11, 2009.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

The antitrust accusations against Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation are about to hit the fan. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department plans to file an antitrust lawsuit against the company within weeks. Live Nation has been accused of controlling the ticketing and live event venues market, a position that allows it to charge unfair ticket prices and other fees, especially since the botched sale of tickets for Taylor Swift's Eras Tour in 2022. According to the Journal, "Ticketmaster now holds more than 80% of the market for primary ticket sales in the biggest venues in the US" and "has exclusive ticketing contracts with many of the stadiums and arenas where high-profile acts perform."

The Justice Department approved the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster but reached an agreement that said Live Nation wouldn't bully venues into using Tickermaster exclusively. Antitrust enforcers found the company violated that condition in 2019. As part of a settlement, the 2010 agreement, which was supposed to expire after a decade, was extended through to 2025. And to it was added "an anti-retaliation clause that prevents Live Nation from threatening to withhold shows if a venue sells seats through a company other than Ticketmaster," the Journal reports. Each violation of that provisions carries a $1 million penalty. Senators and competitors have argued this isn't enough to counter Live Nation's dominance.

Following the Biden administration's efforts to aid competition through price transparency, the Justice Department's lawsuit will accuse the company of undermining competition, the Journal reports. Live Nation's head of corporate affairs Dan Wall has already denied many of the accusations expected to be included. In a statement last month, Wall said artists and teams set ticket prices, while venues set service charges. The primary ticketing company collects between 5% and 7% per ticket but only pockets about 2% after costs, he said. "Even if one were to assume—without any evidence—that there is some amount of unjustified 'monopoly profit' in a 5-7% commission, it could not affect ticket prices by more than one or two percent at worst," Wall wrote. (More Live Nation stories.)

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