Live Nation Settles Antitrust Violations Over Ticketmaster Deal

Live Nation Entertainment Inc. has reached a settlement with the Department of Justice to resolve charges related to its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster. The concert promoter was accused of violating the terms of antitrust deal connected to the merger, by pressuring concert venues to work with Ticketmaster, now its subsidiary. The 2010 Final Judgment, known as a consent decree, allowed a merger between both companies but on certain conditions focused to help to preserve and promote ticketing competition in the live events industry. As per the conditions, Beverly Hills, California -based Live Nation was prohibited for ten years from retaliating against concert venues for using another ticketing company, threatening concert venues, or undertaking other specified actions against concert venues. The consent decree was set to expire in 2020. In recent weeks, the DOJ investigated claims that Live Nation had violated the consent decree's terms on several occasions. DOJ now said, "Despite the prohibitions in the Final Judgment, Live Nation repeatedly and over the course of several years engaged in conduct that, in the Department's view, violated the Final Judgment." In a statement, the DoJ said its Antitrust Division will file a petition asking the court to significantly modify the 2010 Live Nation/Ticketmaster final judgment to make clear that such conduct is prohibited. The Decree will also be extended by five and a half years, allowing concert venues and American consumers to get the benefit of the relief the Department bargained for in the original settlement. The clarifications to the consent decree includes, among others, that Live Nation may not threaten to withhold concerts from a venue for choosing a ticketer other than Ticketmaster. The company is subject to an automatic penalty of $1 million for each violation. Live Nation will also pay costs and fees for the Department's investigation and enforcement. Following the news of settlement, Live Nation shares gained more than nine percent on Thursday's regular trading on the NYSE.