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US Department Of Justice Reportedly Preparing To Sue Live Nation Over Breaking Antitrust Laws

Not exactly surprising, given how things have gone.

Live Nation Crowd

The US Department of Justice is preparing to sue Live Nation Entertainment, the parent company of Ticketmaster, for breaking antitrust laws.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the US Department of Justice is accusing Live Nation Entertainment of using its influence over the live event space to actively harm competition. The lawsuit has not yet been filed and neither Live Nation nor the Justice Department have provided comment on the matter.

Has Live Nation been in trouble before?

Live Nation and the federal government of the United States haven't exactly had the best relationship over the past few years. In 2023, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) issued a subpoena to Live Nation Entertainment and its subsidiary Ticketmaster, demanding documents related to ticket pricing, fees, and resale practices.

The PSI's probe was initially launched in March following widespread criticism of Ticketmaster's handling of ticket sales for concerts by Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen. In both cases, fans were met with exorbitant fees and technical glitches that made it nearly impossible to purchase tickets. These incidents, along with Ticketmaster's dominant position in the live entertainment market, have raised concerns about the company's use of monopoly power to gouge consumers.

Live Nation Entertainment was also sued in 2023 over antitrust laws by a group of consumers, but won the lawsuit thanks to their their Terms And Conditions. The antitrust lawsuit was filed in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and was ruled against by a judge, who said the lawsuit belongs in arbitration rather than in court.

In 2022, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Democratic representative for New Jersey's 9th congressional district, called for Live Nation Entertainment to be broken up over safety and monopolization concerns. Pascrell originally wrote to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in March of that year saying that mergers should be easier to overturn, and that the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster was both bad for competition and caused a lapse in safety measurements at events.

"The union of Live Nation and Ticketmaster is a posterchild of consolidation gone bad," said Pascrell in his letter. "When Live Nation, the nation's biggest concert promoter, and Ticketmaster, the largest ticket provider sought to combine, they assured regulators that their fusion would promote competition in the live events marketplace. Several members of Congress, including myself, vocally disagreed. We practically begged President Obama's administration to stop the deal."

Pascrell cited tragedies like Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival, where 10 people died and hundreds were injuries as crowds got out of control. Despite the incidents, Live Nation Entertainment has only continued to grow financially.

Mark Perry of American Enterprise Institute penned a similar letter published by The Hill, saying that Live Nation Entertainment currently owns 70% market share of the concert ticket market and 80% of ticket distribution for stadiums and arenas in the United States. Perry concluded his letter, saying "With live events back, Washington should not miss this opportunity to fix what is broken in live event ticketing."

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