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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. We believe this is the best outcome for our business, clients and shareholders as we turn our focus to 2020 initiatives,” the Michael Rapino-led company said Thursday in a statement.
The settlement does not include a fine and sources familiar with the negotiations say the changes are mostly clarifications over disagreements between Live Nation and assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim, who had identified five violations of the decree (out of 5,000 contracts signed) in the last decade.
Live Nation’s stock immediately rebounded after the story broke, rising nearly 10 percent and trading around $70 per share after spending the week trading around $64 per share following the news that Delrahim’s office was investigating the company over compliance issues with the decree. As part of the settlement, the company’s ban on threatening to retaliate against venues has been tightened and Ticketmaster sales reps 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 non-Ticketmaster venues but can’t punish venues that don’t re-up their deals.
The nuanced tweeks are likely to disappoint the growing chorus of senators, congressional reps and company critics who had been calling for Live Nation 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 it as the company heads into the next decade.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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