Live Nation/Ticketmaster Merger Stalled by Investigation
The proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation hit a major hiccup yesterday, as a government committee ordered the deal to be reviewed a second time. The competition appeal tribunal has instructed officials to re-evaluate the pact between two of the world’s largest music corporations, paying greater attention to the companies’ competitors.
Despite okaying the merger in December, the UK Competition Commission will now reopen its investigation. The commission has been asked to pay particular attention to complaints by CTS Eventim, a German-based ticket seller contracted by Live Nation to handle their UK ticketing.
If this evokes some deja vu, it is because in October, the Competition Commission ruled against the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger, citing its impact on CTS Eventim, which is Europe’s largest ticket broker. “[The merged company] will have every incentive to inhibit a significant potential rival from entering the UK market,” an official explained at the time. “[This would put] CTS’s future prospects in the UK in considerable doubt.”
Although the commission reversed that decision, the tribunal now insists that it reverses the reversal and considers the situation one more time. This ruling has been hailed by the deal’s opponents, particularly in the US, where Live Nation and Ticketmaster reportedly control 70% of the ticketing market. “We’re pleased,” a spokesperson for the US National Consumers League told TicketNews. “It’s an indication that they’re recognising the deep impact that this deal will have on the entertainment industry.”
Outside the UK, the mega-merger has largely been approved. The US department of justice signed off late last month, leaving a 60-day window for complaints before it is formally processed. On a structural level, the companies have already joined together, becoming Live Nation Entertainment. Conditions for approval in the US included a requirement to license ticketing software to concert promoter AEG, and an order to sell ticketing subsidiary Paciolan. Live Nation has also been prohibited from retaliating against venues that sign ticket deals with companies other than Ticketmaster.