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Cablevision's James Dolan named to Live Nation's Board of Directors

By Alfred Branch Jr.

James Dolan, President and CEO of media company Cablevision Systems Corp. — and the controversial owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers — this week was elected to the Board of Directors of Live Nation Entertainment, a move that further tightens Live Nation's grip on the live entertainment industry.

There is no doubt about Dolan's clout in live entertainment. In addition to heading cable television company Cablevision, which owns the AMC and IFC networks and New York Newsday, Dolan is also the executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which owns the venerable New York City arena and the Beacon Theatre, Radio City Music Hall and The Chicago Theatre, and combined the four venues are among the most successful in the U.S.

MSG was spun off from Cablevision as a separate entity in the summer of 2009, which immediately led to speculation that the new company could become a rival to Live Nation, which had just announced its plan to merge with Ticketmaster a few months before.

The thought that Dolan might lead a charge against Live Nation was born out of the fact that in 2008, he flirted with the idea of dropping Ticketmaster as the ticketing provider for MSG and the other venues when Live Nation was considering launching its own ticketing operation. Dolan quickly squelched that notion, but the move was seen as a way for him to try to extract better terms on their ticketing contract.

In fact, that contract may have figured into Dolan and Live Nation establishing some unique provisions in the agreement for him to join the board, which essentially allows him to still compete against the company.

"In order to attract and retain Mr. Dolan as a member of the Board, and in light of Mr. Dolan’s ongoing services to Cablevision, MSG and AMC, the Board has, in accordance with Delaware law, adopted resolutions which renounce and provide for a waiver of the corporate opportunity doctrine as it relates to Mr. Dolan," Live Nation wrote in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission about Dolan's election to the board. "As a result, Mr. Dolan will have no fiduciary duty to present corporate opportunities to Live Nation except in limited circumstances. The Board has also waived, subject to certain exceptions, any duty on the part of Mr. Dolan to refrain from competing with, investing in competitors of, or negotiating on behalf of other entities against, Live Nation."

A spokesperson for Live Nation did not reply to a message seeking comment, and Dolan could not be reached.

In the past year, Live Nation's board has seen its share of changes, with the resignation of former Chairman Barry Diller and eventual naming of Irving Azoff to that position.

Dolan joins a board that not only includes Azoff, but also Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's brother Ariel Emanuel and Clear Channel Vice Chairman Randall Mays, among others.

Prior to joining the board, Dolan already owned nearly 4 million shares of Live Nation stock, which translates to an ownership stake of almost 5 percent the of the company. Upon joining the board, Dolan received an additional 11,000 shares of stock, which trades under the symbol LYV.

Dolan has not been named to any board committees, "nor is he expected to be so appointed at this time."

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