DOJ Preps Antitrust Lawsuit Against Ticketmaster Parent Live Nation | Report

The concert promoter is supposed to be operating under a deal that prevents it from bullying venues into using Ticketmaster

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift performs onstage for the opening night of "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour" (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

The Justice Department is preparing to sue Ticketmaster parent Live Nation amid continued criticism for the concert promotion and ticketing giant over exhorbitant fees, poor customer service and anticompetitive practices, The Wall Street Journal reported.

An antitrust suit could be filed as soon as next month, according to the Monday report. The specific claims the department might bring could not be learned.

Live Nation stock fell following the report, giving up $7.18, or 7%, to $92.58 in late morning trading and virtually wiping out its gains since the start of the year.

The DOJ has reportedly been scrutinizing the Beverly Hills-based conglomerate, which bills itself as the “world’s leading live entertainment company,” for years.

The department did not try to block the combination of Live Nation and Ticketmaster in 2010. But by 2018, it was reportedly probing allegations that the merged company used its dominance in the concert tours business to pressure venues into selling their tickets on Ticketmaster or risk losing popular acts.

One of the conditions the department put on the company at the time of the merger was that it was not allowed to force venues to use the ticketing service where it was promoting a concert. Antitrust regulators got the consent decree, which was due to expire in 2020, extended to 2025 after finding that Live Nation violated the original agreement by bullying venues into using Ticketmaster, The Journal reported. The settlement included an anti-retaliation clause that was supposed to prevent Live Nation from threatening venues.

Then the Taylor Swift fiasco brought new scrutiny.

In late 2022, presales for the pop star’s “The Eras Tour” descended into chaos, crashing Ticketmaster’s systems. That was followed by a botched distribution of tickets for a Bad Bunny concert in Mexico City, where fans were turned away when their tickets were falsely called counterfeit.

Myriad other fans and performers have griped over the eye-popping fees that Ticketmaster can tack onto the price of a concert ticket, and after the Swift debacle, lawmakers joined in, accusing the company of anticompetitive practices. The issue blossomed into a spectacle last year, with a Senate committee hearing in January focused on Live Nation’s and Ticketmaster’s stranglehold on the industry, and Senators threatening to act to enforce a fair marketplace.

“The Boss and Swift Act,” referencing earlier problems with Bruce Springsteen ticket sales, was introduced in the House in May. It remains stuck in committee.

By June, Ticketmaster had agreed to display its fees and provide fans with “all-in” pricing before they make their purchases amid a pressure campaign from the White House to end “junk fees.”

Live Nation did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but in the past has denied that it operates as a monopoly in the ticketing and live event space.

“Ticketmaster has more competition today than it has ever had, and the deal terms with venues show it has nothing close to monopoly power,” a Ticketmaster spokeswoman told The Journal.


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