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Live Nation confirms deal with US Department Of Justice over its consent decree

By | Published on Friday 20 December 2019

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Live Nation has announced a new deal with the US Department Of Justice that will see a consent decree that was agreed when it bought Ticketmaster back in 2010 extended for another five years.

That consent decree sought to stop the combined Live Nation/Ticketmaster from leveraging its concert promotions business to secure competitive advantage for its ticketing business, or vice versa. The agreement – originally designed to allay competition law concerns raised when the Live Nation and Ticketmaster companies merged – was due to expire next year.

In more recent years there have been various claims that Live Nation has breached the terms of the consent decree at various points, allegations the live giant has constantly denied. Addressing those claims at a conference recently, Live Nation boss Michael Rapino said many people misunderstand the purpose and workings of the consent decree, which leads them to incorrectly believe it has been breached.

Nevertheless, last week there were reports that the DoJ was planning legal action in relation to its Live Nation agreement. Subsequent rumours suggested that the government department had identified five times Live Nation had violated the consent decree, albeit out of thousands and thousands of deals done. All that chatter caused Live Nation’s share price to slide.

However, yesterday’s announcement seems to confirm that no legal action will now occur. In its statement, Live Nation said that not only would the consent decree be renewed for five years, but certain elements of it would be clarified, seemingly to deal with scenarios where there have been disagreements between the live music company and the DoJ on what, exactly, the original draft of the agreement meant.

Live Nation’s statement reads: “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”.

Those in the live music industry and political community who have accused Live Nation of anti-competitive conduct in recent years will presumably be disappointed that an agreement has been reached, and therefore there’ll be no public scrutiny on the consent decree and how it works. Though debates about the ticketing sector continue in Washington, and Ticketmaster – as both a primary and secondary ticketing platform in the US – will still be very much part of those discussions.

Meanwhile Live Nation’s share price bounced back following yesterday’s announcement.