Lovers of overpriced big-ticket shows and outrageous service charges rejoice! Against all reason and rationality, the Department of Justice has approved the merger of dominant concert promoter Live Nation with dominant fleecing operation Ticketmaster, allowing the companies to unite into one giant Mordor-like empire that casts a shadow over the entire music industry. According to the Wall Street Journal, the move clears the way for “the creation of single entity that will be able to manage artists, book them in venues which it owns, and sell tickets to their concerts.” Gosh, how could that possibly be bad for consumers?
All sarcasm aside, the DOJ’s antitrust division has imposed conditions on the merger designed to check its immense power, encourage competition, and (theoretically) lower ticket prices. For example, the new company will have to license its ticketing software to a competitor, AEG Live and sell Ticketmaster subsidiary Paciolan, a company that specializes in ticketing infrastructure to Comcast-Spectacor or another approved buyer. Another condition of the merger prevents Ticketmaster from retaliating against venue owners for using another company’s ticketing or promotional services. And the DOJ has backed up these conditions with a warning that it would closely regulate the activities of the merged enterprise to make sure they don’t violate these terms.
In a statement released earlier today, one of Ticketmaster’s most vocal critics, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. (D) of New Jersey, blasted the DOJ for its decision: “The American people need to be told how DOJ decided that this deal, even with the concessions made, passes muster with our nation’s antitrust laws,” he wrote. “Moving forward, as these two companies with a history of anti-consumer behavior are poised to join together into an entertainment behemoth, I will be keeping a close eye on how the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission enforce any conditions they impose on this new entity to ensure consumers are protected.”