Live Nation executives say it’s highly unlikely that the Department of Justice would file an antitrust lawsuit against the company by the end of the year, contrary to a Politico report Friday (July 28) claiming a lawsuit would come as soon as this fall. The Politico article said the allegedly forthcoming DOJ lawsuit “claims the entertainment giant is abusing its power over the live music industry.”
Live Nation and Ticketmaster are currently the subject of a broad antitrust probe, based in part on complaints from some of the company’s competitors in ticketing and concert promotion. Executives cleared to speak on background at Live Nation tell Billboard that lawyers for the concert promotion giant are in the middle of complying with discovery demands from the Department of Justice as it probes antitrust allegations related to Live Nation’s 2010 merger with Ticketmaster.
A lawsuit filed by the end of the year sounds unlikely, the executives say, because the DOJ has not conducted any executive interviews at the company, have not taken any depositions and have not held any substantive meetings with Live Nation’s attorneys to discuss evidence.
“We’re in regular contact with the DOJ and they haven’t told us they think we’re doing anything illegal or asked us to address any concerns,” said Dan Wall, Live Nation’s executive vp for corporate and regulatory affairs, in a statement. “It would be highly irregular for the DOJ to file without that notice and a lot of dialogue afterwards. However, if they do file we are prepared to defend ourselves.”
Live Nation and Ticketmaster have been the target of lawmakers since the companies merged in 2010 and came under a consent decree negotiated by officials with the Department of Justice. In 2019, the DOJ’s assistant attorney general for antitrust, Makan Delrahim, charged the company with six violations of the consent decree over a 10-year period. The company agreed to pay a fine and extend the consent decree through 2024.
Ticketmaster has come under fire in recent months for the 2022 crash of the Taylor Swift Eras Tour presale. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) blamed the crash on Ticketmaster’s “monopolistic” history, claiming that the company’s market share led to a lack of innovation. Ticketmaster blamed the outage on a cyber-attack initiated by billions of bots.