Apr 16, 2024 - Business

DOJ to sue Ticketmaster parent Live Nation for antitrust violations

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The Live Nation Entertainment logo is displayed on a smartphone screen. Photo Illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is planning to sue Live Nation, one of the largest ticketing and live events companies in the country, on antitrust grounds, a regulatory source familiar with the DOJ's plans told Axios.

Why it matters: The company faced intense scrutiny from lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups over botched ticket sales for Taylor Swift's Eras Tour in late 2022.

  • That fiasco highlighted the firm's dominance, although the DOJ was reportedly already investigating the company.

Catch up quick: Live Nation acquired Ticketmaster in 2010. The DOJ at the time didn't sue to block the deal but barred the company from pressuring concert venues to use its ticketing software through a legal order called a consent decree.

  • The ten-year consent decree was extended for more than five years in 2020, giving the DOJ more power to go after the company for abusing its market dominance.
  • Artists have long spoken out about Ticketmaster's practices, but those murmurs turned into rallying cries after Ticketmaster's site crashed for thousands of Taylor Swift fans in 2022.

Driving the news: The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of a possible lawsuit Monday, reported that the DOJ could file suit as soon as next month. A source familiar with the DOJ's plans told Axios that the timing is unclear.

  • The company has tried to counter the narrative that it's responsible for inflated ticket pricing, arguing in a blog post last month that tickets "are actually priced by artists and teams."
  • Some analysts have argued a lawsuit would most likely end in a settlement, given that the government's complaint reportedly won't target the company's fundamental business model, but rather some of its business practices.

The big picture: The lawsuit would represent the latest big complaint against a major company by the DOJ during the Biden Administration.

  • The DOJ sued Apple in March for abusing its dominant position in the smartphone and app markets. It has sued Google multiple times since 2020.
  • The DOJ and Live Nation declined to comment.

Go deeper: What to know about Jonathan Kanter, the DOJ antitrust chief taking on Apple

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