On Jan. 25, after 11 months of waiting, Ticketmaster and Live Nation received the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice to consummate their merger to form Live Nation Entertainment.
At first blush it looked like a merger that the DOJ would block. Ticketmaster dominated the U.S. ticketing market for more than a decade, winning the enmity of millions of consumers through excessive service charges (ironically titled “convenience fees”) and demonstrating its skill at manipulating supply and driving up prices.
Live Nation was the first significant rival to Ticketmaster’s dominance when it launched its own ticketing subsidiary in January 2009, and it quickly secured a substantial foothold, leaving Ticketmaster with no other option than to eat its prey.
More than 50 congressmen and 25,000 consumers wrote to the DOJ asking it to block the merger. After all, it was hard to imagine how permitting Ticketmaster to acquire its sole rival would create more competition or be good for consumers. One would have thought that the Obama administration, which sought to send a clear message that it’s the new antitrust sheriff in town, would’ve decided to march these two companies into court and get a federal court judge to just say no.
Click here to read why David Balto believes the merger should not have been approved, and what he thinks the DOJ and FTC must do to protect consumers.