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The Department of Justice is looking into the business practices of ticketing leader Live Nation, according to a new report by The New York Times.
Under review by the DOJ are complaints that Live Nation has pressured venues into using its subsidiary, Ticketmaster, to sell tickets to events. AEG, Live Nation’s chief competitor, told DOJ officials that venues they manage in cities such as Atlanta and Las Vegas informed them they would lose high-priority shows if they did not use Ticketmaster as a vendor, which could be a violation of antitrust law.
One example cited was a 2013 Matchbox Twenty Atlanta show in which Live Nation bypassed the city’s Gwynett Center in favor of another venue in town. Live Nation stated that the decision was not intended to be punitive to Gwynett Center for choosing an AEG service over Ticketmaster. When contacted by the Gwynett Center asking not to relocate the concert, a Live Nation coordinator reportedly responded, “Three letters. Can you guess what they are?,” presumably referring to AEG.
Ticketmaster president Jared Smith responded to the Times article on the company’s website on Sunday, writing, “The New York Times article suggests that any benefits of being a vertically integrated company are, in and of themselves, anticompetitive. They insinuate that we ‘condition’ content. That we ‘retaliate’ when Ticketmaster is not selected as a venue’s ticketing partner. In short, they say we have stifled competition.”
Smith went on to say, “The reality is that none of these things are true. It is absolutely against Live Nation and Ticketmaster policy to threaten venues that they won’t get any Live Nation shows if they don’t use Ticketmaster.”
A request for comment from the DOJ was not immediately returned.
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