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Department of Justice, state AGs file suit against Live Nation, Ticketmaster

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The U.S. Department of Justice and a bipartisan coalition of 30 state AGs has filed suit against Live Nation Entertainment and its subsidiary, Ticketmaster, alleging violations of antitrust laws through a range of what the suit terms “anticompetitive practices in an effort to control the live entertainment industry.”

The lawsuit filed on Thursday alleges that Live Nation and Ticketmaster illegally obtained and preserved their monopoly power in much of the live entertainment industry through control of ticketing and venues.

Ticketmaster, a registered Virginia LLC, is the largest primary ticketing company in the country, multiple times the size of its closest competitor, and Live Nation owns or controls more than 265 concert venues in North America, including more than 60 of the top 100 amphitheaters in the United States.

Among the venues in Virginia under Live Nation ownership or control are the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow and Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach.

“Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s stronghold over the live entertainment industry has harmed artists, venues, and small businesses, leaving consumers with less choice and exorbitant fees,” said Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, one of the parties to the suit. “Virginia consumers and businesses deserve a free marketplace for products, services, and ideas – and breaking up Ticketmaster and Live Nation will allow for competition and innovation to return to the live entertainment industry.”

“We allege that Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States at the cost of fans, artists, smaller promoters, and venue operators,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “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.”

The suit alleges that Live Nation has maintained its anticompetitive monopoly in ticketing markets by locking up venues through restrictive long-term, exclusive agreements and threats that venues will lose access to Live Nation-controlled tours and artists if they sign with a rival ticketer.

The suit also alleges that Live Nation leverages its extensive network of amphitheaters to force artists to select Live Nation as a promoter instead of its rivals, maintaining its promotions monopoly.

As a result, the coalition argues in the suit, Live Nation’s conduct has harmed fans through higher fees, lack of transparency, fewer consumer choices, and stifling innovation.

Live Nation posted a lengthy statement on the lawsuit on its website, in which the company blasted the Biden administration’s decision to “turn over antitrust enforcement to a populist urge that simply rejects how antitrust law works.”

“A central tenet of these populists is that antitrust should target companies that have grown large enough that in some nebulous way they ‘dominate’ markets – even if they attained their size through success in the marketplace, not practices that harm consumers, which is the focus of antitrust laws,” the company said in its response.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].