On the heels of the just completed acquisition by Comcast-Spectator of ticketing software company Paciolan, Comcast-Spectator president Peter Luukko spoke with Billboard.biz about the steps that led to the merger, how the company intends to compete with Live Nation Entertainment on the ticketing front, and what competing with the world's largest promoter can mean.

Talk a bit about the process that led to this acquisition. Did you go to the DOJ or did they come to you?
Peter Luukko: Actually it was a suggestion made by Ticketmaster/Live Nation, and then we were interviewed by the DOJ. It was about a four-month time frame [prior to the DOJ's ruling]. We came into the process after there was the suggestion that as part of [Live Nation and Ticketmaster's] divesture of some assets, and with [the DOJ] looking to create some competition, our name was brought up as someone who might potentially get back into business with Paciolan.

Did the DOJ's involvement have an impact on your negotiations to buy Paciolan?
I won't speak for them, but the concern for them was: Is this going to be true competition? Is this going to be a truly independent company? And we and Ticketmaster/Live Nation had to convince them that we certainly are an independent and we have our own unique way of competing. If you look at Comcast-Spectacor, we're a venue/team based company, and we're going to be taking that angle. We're not involved with touring acts and doing tours. We're going to be kind of the independent solution to ticketing, where we're going to work with AEG, Live Nation, and all the various independent promoters in the marketplace.

As existing contracts between buildings and Ticketmaster, for example, run out, will your company actively bid on them?
Yes, we're going to actively bid for any contract that's out there. Paciolan has a strong niche in the collegiate market and performing arts centers, and we're in varied types of venues. So, we're going to continue to blanket the marketplace and compete for contracts as they expire.

Would Paciolan or New Era have an inside track on Global Spectrum managed buildings? (Global Spectrum is the facility management division of Comcast-Spectacor).
Many of our buildings are public buildings, and New Era bids those buildings as a full-service ticketing company, so we'll continue to do that.

Is there the potential for a New Era/Paciolan hybrid?
There may be some shared services. Paciolan is a software provider and New Era is a full-service ticket provider, so they really compliment each other. We may have some shared sales opportunities, and maybe some other efficiencies, but the plan right now is for them to remain independent because they need to be.

Comcast-Spectacor has always had a cooperative relationship with Live Nation and Ticketmaster, will competing against them for ticketing contracts change that dynamic?
We're going to be competing for ticketing contracts, but on the other hand we're going to work very closely with the Live Nation side of the merger to continue to book shows at all of our venues. We're going to work with AEG and independent promoters. We see that as business as usual. There will be a situation where we may be competing on a facet of their business, but in terms of live entertainment, I think we'll be as cooperative and as close to everybody as we are today.

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