DOJ Takes Aim At Alleged Predatory Practices By Live Nation

(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

Ilan Hulkower Contributor
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a major antitrust lawsuit Thursday against Ticketmaster LLC and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment Inc., a press release reads.

This lawsuit was joined by 30 state and district attorneys general who alleged the concert ticket company engaged in monopolization and predatory practices harmful to competition, the DOJ says. (RELATED: DOJ Proposes Rule To Reclassify Marijuana)

The DOJ accused the company of exploiting its relationship with a potential competitor to avoid bidding against them, as well as allegedly threatening to retaliate against a competitor firm, the press release reads. Live Nation allegedly worked to undermine venues that worked with competitors and allegedly used long-term exclusive contracts to lock out competitors. The company allegedly blocked venues from booking multiple ticketers and allegedly restricted artists’ use of venues. Live Nation also strategically bought out competitors and those the business identified as threats, the DOJ says.

These alleged actions undermined “competition in the live concert industry” that would have provided lower costs and better services, the DOJ maintains in the press release. “The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services. It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in the press release that the DOJ was serious about combating alleged “corporate misconduct.” She also stated that this lawsuit marked “a step forward in making this era of live music more accessible for the fans, the artists, and the industry that supports them.”

The defendant controls over 265 concert venues in North America and over “60 of the top 100 amphitheaters in the United States,” the DOJ says. The company generates “over $22 billion globally in annual revenue” via live events, ticket proceeds and promotion and advertising.

Live Nation called the lawsuit’s allegations “baseless” in a statement of their own, NBC News reported. The company reportedly said that the lawsuit was fated to “lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees go to venues, and that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin.”