The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) has joined other consumer groups and promoters to oppose the planned merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, and the group is urging its followers to take action.

In a mass email this week to music fans and consumers, CALPIRG State Director Emily Rusch blasted the proposed deal and called on consumers to write Assistant U.S. Attorney General Christine Varney to try to block the merger.

“Ticketmaster is the king of fees. A handling fee, a processing fee, a just-cause-we-can fee. Frequently, these fees make up more than 30 percent of the overall price of the ticket,” she wrote.

“And it could get worse. Ticketmaster wants to merge with Live Nation, its leading competitor, meaning that most of the tickets we could buy would be coming from the new mega-ticket conglomerate. And from past experience we know that the less competition, the worse these guys get with their handling, processing and other nonsense fees.” Rusch could not be reached for comment.


The week has been an eventful one for the merger, as speculation mounted – which was later debunked – that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was poised to approve the merger with the condition that Live Nation sell its ticketing operation. Sources with knowledge of the DOJ antitrust investigation into the merger later told Reuters that DOJ has a team of attorneys preparing its legal case to block the deal.

Last month, the UK Competition Commission approved the deal, but DOJ has taken the better part of a year to review the aspects of the merger, and it could hand down its ruling this month. Ticketmaster has scheduled a shareholders vote on the plan for tomorrow, January 8.

CALPIRG has created a page on its Web site where people can enter their name and name and send a form letter email to Assistant Attorney General Varney that reads:

Dear Assistant Attorney General Varney,

The ticket vending business is already dominated by Ticketmaster. As a result, Ticketmaster’s fees already frequently make up more than 30 percent of the overall cost of a ticket. Allowing them to merge with their largest remaining competitor, Live Nation, would secure their monopoly over the ticket vending business far into the future. Please protect consumers by upholding anti-trust laws. Say no to the proposed Ticketmaster merger with Live Nation.

“Attorney General Varney is the Department of Justice official tasked with upholding anti-trust laws, and they are reviewing the merger right now. A trust is exactly what could form if Live Nation and Ticketmaster are allowed to merge,” Rusch wrote. “Ticketmaster, along with its subsidiaries, contracts with roughly 200 artists. Live Nation owns or has exclusive deals with 139 venues, and manages about 150 artists. Live Nation is Ticketmaster’s biggest competitor in the ticket selling business.”

She added, “The new mega-ticket monopoly would be the gatekeeper to most major venues and artists, meaning that they would dominate most aspects of live concerts.”

Last Updated on January 8, 2010