Live Nation and the U.S. Justice Department have come to terms to both amend and extend the regulatory decree signed in 2010 which permits the powerful concert promoter to merge with Ticketmaster, a move which was considered at the time–and still today–a highly controversial binding of the two industry-leading giants.
A report shared by The New York Times on Thursday detailing the agreement comes amid recent reports that the Justice Department was ready to pursue legal action against the Live Nation, alleging the company repeatedly violated the existing agreement and claimed in certain situations that it had “Sought to strong-arm concert venues into using its dominant Ticketmaster subsidiary.”
The current agreement, which was set to expire in July 2020, will now continue up to the end of 2025. The proposal filed by government officials in federal court in Washington, D.C. states Live Nation will also reimburse the Justice Department for any costs from enforcing the regulations and the investigation throughout, but would not be fined. That investigation focused on complaints from industry competitors which said Live Nation had used its vast leverage to pressure venues around the country into signing contracts with its Ticketmaster subsidiary, the report states.
Under the existing agreement, Live Nation is forbidden from using the might of its concert-promotion division to pressure venues into agreeing on exclusive deals to use Ticketmaster. Live Nation can “bundle” its services which gives the company the right to exercise “its own business judgment” when making deals, but that can be difficult to enforce. The revised decree would make clearer how Live Nation should conduct itself in the marketplace pertaining to the use of Ticketmaster to determine performance locations for artists.
Going forward, the Justice Department says it will look to appoint an independent monitor to investigate and report on Live Nation’s behavior. Live Nation will also be forced to pay an “automatic penalty” of $1 million for any future violation of the amended agreement.
“Today’s enforcement action including the addition of language on retaliation and conditioning will ensure that American consumers get the benefit of the bargain that the United States and Live Nation agreed to in 2010,” says Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general within the Justice Department’s antitrust division. “Merging parties will be held to their promises and the Department will not tolerate transgressions that hurt the American consumer.”
Live Nation did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the new agreement.
[H/T The New York Times]