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The United States plans to sue the owner of Ticketmaster, accusing him of defending a monopoly| GuyWhoKnowsThings

The Justice Department and a group of states plan to sue Live Nation Entertainment, the concert giant that owns Ticketmaster, as soon as Thursday, accusing it of illegally maintaining a monopoly in the live entertainment industry, three people familiar with the matter said. The issue.

The government plans to argue in a lawsuit that Live Nation bolstered its power through Ticketmaster's exclusive ticketing contracts with concert venues, as well as the company's dominance over concert tours and other businesses such as venue management. said two of the people, who declined to be named because the lawsuit was still private. That helped the company maintain a monopoly, raising prices and fares for consumers and limiting innovation in the ticket industry, the people said.

The government will argue that tours promoted by the company were more likely to play venues where Ticketmaster was the exclusive ticketing service, one of the people said, and that Live Nation artists played venues it owned.

Live Nation is a colossus of the concert world and a force in the lives of musicians and fans alike. Its scale and reach far exceeds that of any competitor, encompassing concert promotion, ticket sales, artist management and the operation of hundreds of venues and festivals around the world.

The Ticketmaster division alone sells 600 million tickets a year to events around the world. By some estimates, it handles ticket sales for 70 to 80 percent of major U.S. concert venues.

Lawmakers, fans and competitors have accused the company of engaging in practices that hurt rivals and drive up ticket prices and fees. At a congressional hearing early last year, prompted by a pre-sale of Taylor Swift's tour on Ticketmaster that left millions unable to buy tickets, senators from both parties called Live Nation a monopoly.

The company have denied that sets high prices and fees, saying that artists and other parties, such as big venues, are responsible.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. A Live Nation spokeswoman declined to comment. Bloomberg News previously reported that the lawsuit was imminent.

In recent years, American regulators have sued other big companies, testing centuries-old antitrust laws against the new power exercised by big companies over consumers. The Department of Justice sued Apple in March, arguing that the company has made it difficult for customers to get rid of their devices and has already brought two cases arguing that Google violated antitrust laws. The Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust lawsuit last year. against amazon for harming sellers on its platform and is pursuing another against goalpartly due to its acquisitions of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp.

The Justice Department allowed Live Nation, the world's largest concert promoter, to buy Ticketmaster in 2010 under certain conditions laid out in a legal agreement. If venues didn't use Ticketmaster, e.g. Live Nation could not threaten for concert tours.

In 2019, however, the Department of Justice found that Live Nation had violated those terms and modified and expanded the agreement.

The Justice Department's latest investigation into Live Nation began in 2022. Live Nation simultaneously ramped up its lobbying efforts, spending $2.4 million on federal lobbying in 2023, up from $1.1 million in 2022, according to the documents available through the nonpartisan website OpenSecrets.

In April, the company co-hosted a lavish party in Washington before the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, which featured a performance by country singer Jelly Roll and cocktail napkins that showed positive facts about Live Nation's impact on the economy, such as the billions it says it pays artists.

Under pressure from the White House, Live Nation said in June it would begin displaying prices for shows at venues it owns that include all charges, including additional fees. The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a rule that would ban hidden fees.

A former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Bill Kovacic, said Wednesday that a lawsuit against the company would be a rebuke to previous antitrust officials who had allowed the company to grow to its current size.

“It's another way of saying that the previous policy failed and failed badly,” he said.

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