Kohl Promises Close Watch on Ticketmaster, Live Nation Deal

The chairman of the Senate Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee vows to keep a keen eye on the proposed Department of Justice settlement allowing Ticketmaster to merge with Live Nation.

Sen. Herb Kohl, chairman of the Senate Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee, has said his panel will keep a close watch to ensure compliance with the $2.5 billion merger deal Ticketmaster and Live Nation cut with the Department of Justice.
The DOJ Jan. 25 said it "will require Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. to license its ticketing software, divest ticketing assets and subject itself to anti-retaliation provisions in order to proceed with its merger with Live Nation Inc. ... The proposed settlement will protect competition for primary ticketing, which will in turn maintain incentives for innovation and discounting. ... The merger, as originally proposed, would have substantially lessened competition for primary ticketing in the United States, resulting in higher prices and less innovation for consumers."
"Our investigation into the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger led us to serious concerns about whether the deal would mean higher prices for concert tickets and effectively shut out concert promotion and ticketing competitors," Kohl said in a Jan. 26 statement. "While we still have those concerns, we are hopeful that the Justice Department's conditions on the merger will achieve our goal of preserving genuine competition, and we'll stay involved to make sure that the Justice Department strictly enforces their terms of this settlement to ensure that consumers truly benefit."
According to the DOJ:

""Under the proposed settlement, Ticketmaster must license ticket software and divest ticketing assets to two different companies-Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and either Comcast-Spectacor or another buyer suitable to the department, respectively-allowing both companies to compete head-to-head with Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster will also subject itself to court-ordered restrictions on its behavior.""

The DOJ statement added:

""Ticketmaster must divest itself of Paciolan Inc., a ticketing company that it currently owns, within 60 days to either Comcast-Spectacor, which has already signed a letter of intent to purchase the assets, or some other buyer suitable to the department. Comcast-Spectacor is a sports and entertainment company with management relationships with a number of concert venues and ticketing experience with its New Era Tickets company.Paciolan is used by hundreds of venues to sell tickets including major concert venues around the country. Venues that contract with Paciolan have greater flexibility to lower the ticket service fees that are charged to consumers who buy tickets. The DOJ said that divesting Paciolan to Comcast-Spectacor, or another suitable buyer, in conjunction with the AEG license, will replace the competitive pressure on Ticketmaster lost as a result of the merger.""

"The Department of Justice's proposed remedy promotes robust competition for primary ticketing services and preserves incentives for competitors to innovate and discount, which will benefit consumers," said Christine Varney, assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ's Antitrust Division. "The proposed settlement allows for strong competitors to Ticketmaster, allowing concert venues to have more and better choices for their ticketing needs, and provides for anti-retaliation provisions, which will keep the merged company in check."