In the months since the approval of the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger, officials with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have stayed in regular contact with several concert promoters and other music industry players as a way to continually monitor the effects of the deal.
Under the conditions of the merger agreement between the DOJ and the newly formed Live Nation Entertainment, the government agency would continue to study the combined company because Live Nation Entertainment is “forbidden from retaliating against any venue owner that chooses to use another company’s ticketing services or another company’s promotional services, including restrictions on anticompetitive bundling.” In addition, any Live Nation Entertainment client that “leaves and chooses to use another primary ticketing service” must be allowed to take with them “a copy of the ticketing data related to that client’s sales.”
According to a recent report in the New York Post, this monitoring has taken the form of several conversations between DOJ officials and concert promoters and others in recent months, and a source with knowledge of the discussions told TicketNews promoters have provided information on dealings with Live Nation Entertainment to the DOJ on a regular basis. The discussions are separate from the formal presentations several promoters sent to the DOJ as part of the public comment period following the merger agreement announcement; the DOJ is reviewing those documents and will issue a report to the court, which has to give a final sign-off on the merger.
“We’ve received comments and are preparing responses to comments. There is a committee monitoring the consent decree,” a DOJ spokesperson told the Post.
Gina Talamona, deputy director of public affairs for the DOJ, confirmed to TicketNews that Andrew Ewalt, a trial attorney with the agency, is the lead person in these ongoing conversations with music industry executives.
“We have this compliance committee that monitors the settlement, for which Andrew is the lead,” she said, adding that Ewalt would not be made available for comment.
Talamona declined to disclose the exact nature of the discussions between the department and the promoters, but she did not deny that may include examples of what the promoters believe are breaches of the DOJ merger agreement. The agreement also mandates that Live Nation Entertainment establish “firewalls that protect confidential and valuable competitor data by preventing the merged firm from using information gleaned from its ticketing business in its day-to-day operations of its promotions or artist management business,” according to the DOJ.
In March, Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, who heads the DOJ’s Antitrust Division that conducted the year-long investigation into the merger, spoke on a panel during the South by Southwest music festival and conference and defended the department’s actions.
Promoters have long complained that the merger could leave their competitive data vulnerable, because Ticketmaster works with so many venues and promoters Live Nation Entertainment’s promotional arm would have access to all of that competitive information.
“No one is going to trust that [Ticketmaster and Live Nation] are going to keep all of the data and records separate for all of these venues and promoters,” Dante Ferrando, owner of the Black Cat in Washington DC, told TicketNews last year.