The Live Nation-Ticketmaster is the subject of a major antitrust suit by the Justice Department

BBC.com

The Justice Department and dozens of state attorneys general filed a major antitrust lawsuit Thursday seeking the breakup of Ticketmaster owner Live Nation Entertainment over what they allege is the company’s unlawful dominance over the concert ticket sales industry.
“It is time to break up Live Nation.”
“When companies like Live Nation control every aspect of an event, it leads to bad blood — concertgoers and sports fans suffer and are forced to pay more.
Everybody agrees, Live Nation and Ticketmaster are the problem and it’s time for a new era.
Live Nation released a statement Thursday following the lawsuit, saying, in part, that it’s “absurd to claim that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are wielding monopoly power.”
It blames Live Nation and Ticketmaster for high service charges, but ignores that Ticketmaster retains only a modest portion of those fees.
Live Nation in no way fits the profile.
And even accounting for sponsorship, an advertising business that helps keep ticket prices down, the company’s overall net profit margin is at the low end of profitable S &P 500 companies,” Wall said.

NEGATIVE

The Justice Department and numerous state attorneys general filed a significant antitrust lawsuit on Thursday, requesting that Live Nation Entertainment, the company that owns Ticketmaster, be broken up due to their claims that the company has an illegal monopoly on the sale of concert tickets.

The DOJ, along with thirty state and district attorneys general, filed the lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of New York, accusing the company of monopolizing the live entertainment market and hurting music fans, artists, and promoters nationwide with exorbitant prices and unsatisfactory customer experiences.

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services.”. “Live Nation needs to be broken up. “.

“Ticketmaster and Live Nation have unfairly and illegally controlled the live event industry for far too long, using their power to intimidate venues, overcharge fans, and restrict artists,” stated New York Attorney General Letitia James in a statement. Fans of concerts and sports suffer and have to pay more when companies like Live Nation run every part of the event, which causes resentment. Everyone knows that Ticketmaster and Live Nation are the issue, and a new era is needed. We are taking this crucial step today to safeguard customers and compel large corporations to cease abusing their power and take action. “.

Following a scandal involving Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour presales in late 2022, the company was the subject of a lengthy investigation that lasted more than two years and resulted in a massive lawsuit.

Millions of fans were forced to either give up or look for more expensive tickets on the secondary market when Ticketmaster, which dominates more than 70% of the market for live events and tickets, crashed during the first day of sales.

While Joe Berchtold, the president of Live Nation, has previously defended the company’s business practices, including during a contentious appearance before Congress early last year, Live Nation did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the lawsuit.

In response to the lawsuit, Live Nation issued a statement on Thursday in which it said, among other things, that it is “absurd to claim that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are wielding monopoly power.”. ****.

According to Dan Wall, executive vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs at Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., the lawsuit “blames concert promoters and ticketing companies — neither of which control ticket prices — for high ticket prices.”. It disregards every factor that contributes to higher ticket prices, such as rising production costs, rising artist demand, and round-the-clock online ticket scalping that exposes consumers’ willingness to pay significantly more than the face value of primary tickets. While Ticketmaster only keeps a small percentage of the fees, it still holds Live Nation and Ticketmaster responsible for the exorbitant service charges. In fact, primary ticketing is one of the least expensive digital distributions in the economy. ****.

Wall partially quoted, “It is also evident that we are yet another victim of this administration’s choice to hand antitrust enforcement over to a populist urge that merely rejects how antitrust law works.”. “This is simply anti-business, despite the fact that some refer to it as “anti-monopoly.”. ****.

Among the actions highlighted by the DOJ are claims that Live Nation took advantage of its association with Oak View Group, a business that the lawsuit characterizes as a “hammer” for Live Nation and has refrained from competing with the company for exclusive deals with big-name performers and venues.

Additionally, the Justice Department claims that the company engaged in a pattern of intimidating prospective rivals looking to enter the concert promotions market and cultivating an environment in which venue owners were afraid to sign deals with competitors of Live Nation-Ticketmaster.

In addition, Live Nation-Ticketmaster is charged with using long-term exclusive agreements with venues, which the lawsuit claims prevents them from switching to more affordable or effective ticketing systems. In some cases, the lawsuit even claims that Live Nation-Ticketmaster has prevented venues from even being able to use multiple ticket sellers for events.

When the Justice Department authorized Live Nation’s 2010 merger with Ticketmaster during the Obama administration, the company was already bound by a consent decree. One of the conditions of the decree was that Live Nation could not threaten concert venues that chose to work with rival ticket companies. After the department discovered that the company had broken the terms of the decree, it was extended in 2019.

The Biden administration has launched numerous aggressive antitrust actions, including this lawsuit, to challenge corporations such as Apple, Google, and Amazon for what it claims are blatantly anti-competitive practices that have harmed American consumers.

With a statement released on Thursday afternoon stating that “President Biden strongly supports fair and robust enforcement of the antitrust laws, the White House is supporting the DOJ’s lawsuit against Live Nation and Ticketmaster.”. ****.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement saying, “As the President has said, the American people are tired of being played for suckers.”.

“To ensure that no American is forced to pay higher prices or give up choices because businesses violate the law and engage in anti-competitive behavior, the president established the Strike Force on Unfair and Illegal Pricing. The administration of Jean-Pierre has taken steps to combat corporate greed by outlawing “junk fees,” which unfairly raise costs for hardworking families who are struggling to make ends meet. This includes event tickets.

Justin Ryan Gomez and Zunaira Zaki of ABC News contributed to this story.

A new version of this story is available.

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