The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has officially opened an investigation into the planned merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment, the agency announced today.

Specific details of the investigation were not released, but the planned merger has drawn an avalanche of press, much of it against the deal, since news broke earlier this month.

“The Antitrust Division is committed to vigorous enforcement of the merger antitrust laws and will conduct a thorough investigation of the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation transaction” said Gina Talamona, spokesperson for the Department, in a statement.

Ticketmaster is no stranger to the DOJ, having been investigated for its acquisitions of ticket solutions company Paciolan in 2007 and secondary ticket company TicketsNow in 2008. Both deals were allowed to close.

The Live Nation merger could be different, however. Not only did superstar Bruce Springsteen come out against the deal, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal also wants to see the deal reviewed. Ticketmaster and Live Nation anticipated the deal would be reviewed, and the two still hope to close on the merger in the second half of 2009.

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