Live Nation has reached a settlement with the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, agreeing to extend the 2010 consent decree governing the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation to 2025 and clarifying rules regarding threats and retaliation against venues that don’t sign with the ticketing giant.
“We have reached an agreement in principle with the Department of Justice to extend and clarify the consent decree,” the company said in statement on Thursday (Dec. 19). “We believe this is the best outcome for our business, clients and shareholders as we turn our focus to 2020 initiatives.”
The settlement does not include a fine and sources familiar with the negotiations say the changes are mostly clarifications over disagreements between the company and assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim, who had identified five violations of the decree (out of about 5,000 contracts signed) in the last decade.
Live Nation’s stock immediately rebounded after the story broke, up nearly 10% and trading around $70 per share after spending the week trading around $64 per share following news last Friday that Delrahim’s office was investigating the company over compliance issues with the decree. As part of the settlement, the Live Nation’s ban on threatening to retaliate against venues has been tightened and Ticketmaster sales representatives are not allowed to discuss content bundle deals with venues or detail how Ticketmaster facilities get preference for shows. Live Nation will still be allowed to give Ticketmaster venues priority over other venues, but can’t punish clients that don’t renew their deals.
The nuanced tweaks are likely to disappoint the growing chorus of senators, congressional reps and company critics who had been calling for the company to be investigated and widespread policy changes implemented. The decree essentially leaves the industry at its current status quo and isn’t expected to have any broad marketplace implication beyond the fact that Live Nation is now able to put the long-rumored investigation behind them as they head into the next decade.