The U.S. Justice Department is preparing to take legal action against Live Nation over its coercive ticketing practices, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In particular, the Justice Department is accusing Live Nation of violating terms of its settlement with the government that allowed the completion of its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster. Under the agreement, Live Nation was prohibited from forcing venues which booked its tours to use Ticketmaster as its exclusive ticketing vendor, and from retaliating when venues choose to use a ticketing competitor instead, the WSJ explains.
Live Nation contends it has done nothing to violate the settlement, though Live Nation Chief Executive Michael Rapino did recently admit that the company works with venues that are “right for our business.”
In recent months, the Justice Department has faced bi-partisan pressure to re-examine Live Nation’s ticketing practices. Four U.S. congressmen — three Republicans and a Democrat — recently sent a letter to the department that expressed concerns over Live Nation’s behavior. “Our constituents are facing significantly increased live event prices and a lack of meaningful alternatives to purchase tickets to live events,” the letter read.
Meanwhile, Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar have pubicly called on the Justice Department to investigate the state of competition in ticketing, with a particular focus on the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. “Live Nation’s dominance in the sector raises serious antitrust concerns. I’m glad that the Department of Justice is preparing to take action,” Senator Klobuchar said in a statement.
Live Nation’s 2010 settlement with the government is set to expire next year, but the Justice Department plans to ask a judge to extend the conditions placed on the company.