Ticketmaster Entertainment, which in February announced plans to merge with Live Nation, has reported a net loss of $1.07 billion for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2008.

The loss is a result from the ticketing company taking an impairment charge to account for its falling share price since spinning off from IAC/InterActiveCorp last August. The $1.1 billion goodwill write-down reflected the decline in the company's stock price, which debuted at $20 when it spun off from IAC/InterActiveCorp.

Ticketmaster Entertainment shares closed today (March 19) down 3 cents at $4.09 before the earnings were announced. Free cash flow increased to $49 million from negative $15 million in the same period a year ago.

"While I'm pleased that in the midst of an evolving music industry and a challenged consumer environment we were able to show substantial growth in free cash flow, we won't be satisfied until we transform the Company into the world's most innovative live entertainment services, marketing and distribution organization, working harder on behalf of fans and the artists, athletes and performers," Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff said in a statement.

Fourth-quarter revenues at Los Angeles-based Ticketmaster Entertainment increased 9% to $384 million from $351 million a year ago. The increase in revenue, according to the company, was mainly due to such acquisitions as a controlling interest in Front Line Management Group, the acquisition of software company Paciolan and the acquisition of secondary ticketing company of TicketsNow.

Ticketmaster's ticketing business posted fourth-quarter revenue of $338.3 million, down 4% from the prior year. The number of tickets sold in the quarter decreased 9% to 35.1 million. And the gross value of the tickets sold fell 14% to $2.13 billion. Along with the struggling economy, Ticketmaster attributed the loss to its recently severed contract with Live Nation, which launched its own ticketing platform in January, and a decrease in high-profile tours than during the same period a year prior.

Domestic revenue at Ticketmaster increased 6% to $221.5 million during the fourth quarter, due to acquisitions, and international revenue declined 18% to $116.8 million as a result of a decrease in ticket volume and foreign exchange rates, the company said.

Since acquiring the controlling interest of Front Line in October 2008, the management company has generated $45.7 million for Ticketmaster Entertainment. The revenues were primarily driven by strong touring grosses from Front Line's roster of more than 200 artists, along with revenues from the artist roster of Mick Management, which was acquired in November 2008.

On Feb. 24, Azoff and Live Nation president/CEO Michael Rapino were grilled in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Senate Judiciary's antitrust subcommittee and independent concert promoters, who questioned the motives and potential outcome of the proposed merger of the two live entertainment giants.

On a conference call today with investors, Ticketmaster Entertainment executives said they couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation of the merger, but noted that it will be put to a shareholder vote this summer, with hopes of closing it in the second half of 2009.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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