A coalition of consumer protection groups are taking their opposition to the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger to the internet with the launch of TicketDisaster.org, a Web site dedicated to convincing the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to block the deal.
The Web site was launched Wednesday, December 16, with a press conference held by Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., who also opposes the merger.
According to John Breyault, spokesperson for the National Consumers League (NCL), one of the groups that spearheaded the site’s development, the purpose of it is to reach Congress to pressure the DOJ before the department decides what to do.
“We wanted to make sure that before the House of Representatives recessed for the Holidays that they knew that the deal is in the final stages, and that those House members should act to let the Justice Department know that the safest course of action is to block the merger,” Breyault told TicketNews. Over the summer, Pascrell gathered signatures from 50 House members on a letter of opposition he sent to DOJ.
The other goal of the site is to generate grass roots opposition to the merger, and asks interested people to sign up for updates on the deal. Breyault said the groups behind the site have not put a number on how many people it hopes to attract.
“It’s a pivotal moment for the merger, and we wanted high visibility,” Breyault said, adding that Ticketmaster Entertainment has scheduled its shareholders’ vote on the deal for January 8.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster have put on the full court press, so to speak, to get the merger approved, and the two have enlisted the help of cable giant Comcast to possibly buy some assets.
“We don’t feel that any of the divestitures being discussed would address the inherent anti-competitive nature of the deal,” Breyault said. The TicketDisaster Web site outlines several reasons why the groups oppose the deal, including that Ticketmaster has an alleged track record of anti-competitive behavior, and that the two companies would have unfettered control over ticket prices.
Spokespersons from both Live Nation and Ticketmaster did not respond to requests for comment. Breyault said neither company has reached out to consumer groups about the deal.
“This merger is a dead-end for consumers,” NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg said in a statement. “For too long consumers have had to bear the burden of ever-higher ticket prices and add-on fees while Ticketmaster and Live Nation have been left to gobble up the competition. The time is now for the DOJ to step in and say ‘enough is enough.’”