Live Nation, owner of Ticketmaster, expected to be hit with antitrust lawsuit from the DOJ

ByEvan Perez CNNWire logo
Thursday, May 23, 2024
DOJ to file antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster owner Live Nation
The DOJ is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation for alleged violations in part due to the market dominance of Ticketmaster.

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department and several states are expected to file a lawsuit as soon as Thursday against Live Nation Inc, citing alleged antitrust violations at least in part due to the market dominance of the company's Ticketmaster unit, a person briefed on the planned legal action said.

A successful antritrust case could potentially lead to sweeping changes in the market for live events - an industry that came under intense scrutiny in 2022 after glitches at Ticketmaster blocked millions from purchasing tickets for Taylor Swift's "Eras" tour.

For many critics of Live Nation, the Swift debacle revealed how a lack of competition has led to harms ranging from poor customer service to confusing pricing to expensive ticketing fees to restrictions on ticket resales - amounting to what many consumers complain of as death by a thousand cuts.

The fiasco led lawmakers to grill a top executive of Ticketmaster's parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, in January last year over the company's practices.

During the three-hour hearing, senators pressed Live Nation president and CFO Joe Berchtold and some other witnesses on whether his company was too dominant in the industry, thereby harming rivals, musicians and fans.

"I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said to Berchtold. "You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause."

Nor are music fans and lawmakers the only ones to criticize Live Nation over the years - plenty of musicians and other pop culture figures have as well.

Country star Zach Bryan dropped a surprise album at the end of 2022 titled, "All My Homies Hate Ticketmaster (Live at Red Rocks)."

In the social media post announcing the album on Christmas Eve, Bryan wrote that it "seems there is a massive issue with fair ticket prices to live shows lately."

Even the long-running animated show "The Simpsons" has piled on, with rapacious capitalist Mr. Burns sneering in one episode to his lackey Mr. Smithers: "You laughed when I bought Ticketmaster. 'No one's going to pay a hundred percent service charge.'"

CNN's Brian Fung, Samantha Kelly, Hannah Rabinowitz and Dan Heching contributed reporting.

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