Live Nation “broke the promises they made to the court and to the American People” in 2010 following the company’s merger with Ticketmaster, the United States Department of Justice said yesterday (January 28).
The comments, made by Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, came as the court entered an Amended Final Judgment extending the consent decree with Live Nation/Ticketmaster by five and a half years.
That consent decree – an antitrust agreement made in 2010 – allowed Live Nation to merge with Ticketmaster and included safeguards to prevent anti-competitive behaviour in the years following the merger.
It prohibited Live Nation from doing things such as “retaliating” against concert venues for using other ticketing firms, or threatening venues. It was supposed to end this year.
But according to the DOJ, Live Nation “repeatedly” broke the agreement and engaged in conduct that violated the judgment made in 2010.
In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that the DOJ was ‘preparing legal action’ against Live Nation.
The DOJ’s Antitrust Division filed a petition in December asking the court to modify and extend the consent decree, “to put a stop to this conduct and to remove any doubt about defendants’ obligations under the Final Judgment going forward”.
As reported by Rolling Stone earlier this month, the DOJ then filed court documents stating six times that venues were alleged to have been forced to use Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster, instead of competing firms.
According to Rolling Stone, in one example of the various alleged violations, a venue said that it was told that if Ticketmaster wasn’t used, “Live Nation would never do another show in our building”.
Live Nation has vehemently denied the allegations.
“Live Nation settled this matter to make clear that it has no interest in threatening or retaliating against venues that consider or choose other ticketing companies,” said a Live Nation spokesperson in a statement issued to media earlier this month.
“We strongly disagree with the DOJ’s allegations in the filing and the conclusions they seek to draw from six isolated episodes among some 5,000 ticketing deals negotiated during the life of the consent decree.
“Nevertheless, in keeping with our decision to settle, our focus is now on bringing this matter to its conclusion and continuing to deliver the best live event experiences to fans everywhere.”
When the DOJ filed the petition last month, it listed a number provisions sought to clarify the final judgment, which included an automatic penalty of $1 million for each violation as well as having to pay the costs and fees for the DOJ’s investigation and enforcement.
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim’s stated yesterday that “the amended decree reimburses the American people millions of dollars”, but didn’t specify in the press release the exact sum that Live Nation is required to pay.
In addition to the court signing off on the modification and extension to the consent decree yesterday, it also set the procedure for naming of an Independent Monitoring Trustee, which the DOJ states will make enforcement of the decree for the extended time period “more efficient”.
“Live Nation broke the promises they made to the court and the American people when they merged with Ticketmaster in 2010; today, we are holding them accountable.”
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim
“Live Nation broke the promises they made to the court and the American people when they merged with Ticketmaster in 2010; today, we are holding them accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.
“The amended decree reimburses the American people millions of dollars and makes it easier for the Antitrust Division and state enforcers to identify and prosecute future transgressions.”Music Business Worldwide