US Department of Justice set to file antitrust suit against Live Nation on this day - Hindustan Times
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US Department of Justice set to file antitrust suit against Live Nation on this day

May 23, 2024 08:43 AM IST

The DOJ and several states are set to file an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, owner of Ticketmaster, following Taylor Swift’s ticket fiasco

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and a group of states are preparing for a lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, the owner of Ticketmaster, possibly seeking its split, per Bloomberg News on Wednesday, detailing the next step in an antitrust crusade while urging that the initiative could harm music fans.

The Justice Department may file an antitrust complaint as soon as next month aimed at forcing Live Nation Entertainment Inc. to spin off its Ticketmaster ticketing business, according to three people familiar with the matter. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)
The Justice Department may file an antitrust complaint as soon as next month aimed at forcing Live Nation Entertainment Inc. to spin off its Ticketmaster ticketing business, according to three people familiar with the matter. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

Ticketmaster has been accused of monopolizing concert ticket sales, and several sources have told Reuters that the Justice Department is working on this issue.

For years, frequent concert attendees and politicians have called on the government to reevaluate the possibility of dismantling the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger of 2010, especially after the shocking fiasco of Taylor Swift’s ticket sales for her current concert tour.

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DOJ seeks break up of Live Nation

Bloomberg said the lawsuit is expected to be filed yesterday in the Southern District of New York.

This approach is being embraced by President Joe Biden’s antitrust enforcers, suggesting a willingness to bring matters to a head in efforts to increase competition across multiple sectors, such as Big Tech, healthcare, and groceries, among others.

It also covers the role and roar of fans, primarily giving attention to Taylor Swift’s fans, Swifties.

Live Nation suffered a public backlash in 2022 after it was overwhelmed by high demand to secure tickets to Swift’s 2023 concerts. Due to an influx of users and bots, the ticketing platform was saturated beyond its capacity, and the company that was planning on selling some tickets was forced to cancel some of its plans. Potential consumers had to spend up to eight hours waiting for their turn online.

Many Swifties reported being repeatedly dropped by Ticketmaster while attempting to purchase tickets.

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Ticketmaster acknowledged that it was suffering from bot and scalper attacks, but fans also reported that tickets were too expensive and, most of the time, poor service.

In January 2023, US senators held a hearing in response to the ticket sales fiasco, criticizing Live Nation for its lack of transparency and failure to prevent bot ticket purchases.

Live Nation shares drop as DOJ prepares antitrust suit

This upcoming lawsuit from the DOJ may entail any number of remedies, some of which may include forcing Live Nation to refrain from engaging in any unlawful behaviour up to and including the rather rare but preferred intercession of dismantling the entire company.

The litigation also comes in the wake of the 2010 DOJ green light, with certain conditions, to the much-publicised merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation. The conditions were intended to address the pro-competitive conflict and ensure that the combined firm could not dominate the market.

However, in 2020, a court extended its control over the described merger to 2025 since Ticketmaster acted mischievously, provoking stadiums and arenas to work with other ticket-selling services.

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The company has in the past come out strongly to insist that its business was legal, affirming that the investigation was driven by individuals with business rivalry with ticket resellers.

Following the news of the impending lawsuit, Live Nation's shares fell by 7% in after-hours trading.

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