Clear Channel Communications Inc., the No. 1 U.S. radio broadcaster, was accused in a lawsuit on Friday (June 2) of violating federal anti-trust laws by curtailing concert competition and jacking up t

Clear Channel Communications Inc., the No. 1 U.S. radio broadcaster, was accused in a lawsuit on Friday (June 2) of violating federal anti-trust laws by curtailing concert competition and jacking up ticket prices.

The proposed class-action, filed in Denver federal court, names Clear Channel's broadcasting unit and former concert promotion arm Live Nation Inc. as defendants. It comes three months after a U.S. Justice Department probe into similar matters ended with no action taken against the company.

According to court papers, the suit accuses the defendants of breaking the law by limiting radio airtime for musicians who used competing concert promoters and inflating musicians' fees, "in some cases more than 100 percent of gross sales, in order to exclude competitors from the market."

Clear Channel officials could not immediately be reached for comment. A Live Nation spokesman declined to comment on the suit.

From July 2003 until February 2006, the Justice Department probed allegations that Clear Channel tied radio airplay and the use of concert venues to musicians' use of the companies' concert promotion services.

The lawsuit said the investigation was reportedly discontinued because Clear Channel agreed to spin off Live Nation to become a separately owned company.

"However, Live Nation and Clear Channel Communications Inc. both continue to be dominated by the same individuals," court papers said.

In January, a federal appeals court in New York ruled that the relevant market for concert tickets was local, not national, so Friday's lawsuit is limited to the Denver regional market.

It seeks unspecified monetary damages on behalf of all buyers of tickets to popular music concerts promoted by the defendants from June 1998 to December 2005 in Colorado, parts of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, Wyoming and Nebraska.

-- Reuters

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