Live Nation Reaches Agreement Over Antitrust Concerns

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Live Nation Entertainment Inc.


LYV 9.19%

reached an agreement with the Justice Department to resolve government concerns that the company violated a 2010 antitrust settlement that allowed it to merge with Ticketmaster.

Under the original agreement, known as a consent decree, the companies were allowed to combine but had to agree to conditions designed to help preserve competition in the live-events industry.

Originally set to expire in 2020, the consent decree barred Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, from forcing venues that wanted to book its tours to use Ticketmaster—the dominant ticketing service—for those shows, and from retaliating when venues use a ticketing competitor instead.

The new agreement will extend those conditions through 2025, according to the Justice Department.

Live Nation’s stock rose 9.1% Thursday.

The Justice Department said in September that it was investigating allegations Live Nation had been violating the decree. The department was looking at five incidents of potential misconduct, according to a person familiar with the matter. No material penalties are part of the agreement, this person said.

In addition to extending the term of the original agreement, provisions under the new settlement will make it easier for the government to investigate and punish Live Nation for violations, the Justice Department said. The antitrust division will appoint an independent monitor to investigate and report of Live Nation’s compliance. Live Nation will appoint an internal antitrust compliance officer and conduct regular internal training with employees.

Live Nation must also notify current and potential future venue customers that use its ticketing services of the clarified and extended terms. The company is subject to a $1 million penalty for each potential violation of the settlement. Additionally, it is responsible for all costs and fees related to the department’s investigation and enforcement.

Live Nation had said calls by lawmakers for an investigation were based on a misunderstanding of the decree and of the ticketing industry.

The Live Nation-Ticketmaster deal married two of the most powerful forces in the music industry. Ticketmaster holds a dominant position—estimated at 80%—of the ticketing market, according to people in the concert industry. Live Nation, the market leader in concert promotion, organizes music and other live events by booking talent, securing venues, setting ticket prices and marketing shows. It has also built a robust artist-management business.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month the Justice Department’s plan to take legal action.

In a court filing Thursday, the Justice Department said it had found numerous instances in which Live Nation had either demanded that venues use Ticketmaster as a condition for booking a given concert, or punished a venue for not using the ticketing company’s services by withholding a booking. The company denied the allegations, according to the filing.

Write to Anne Steele at [email protected] and Brent Kendall at [email protected]

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