Justice OKs Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department gave conditional approval Monday to Ticketmaster's proposed merger with Live Nation, saying the government's requirements in a proposed settlement will protect U.S. consumers who purchase tickets.

The government's antitrust lawyers said the settlement requires Ticketmaster (TKTM), the world's largest ticketing company, to license its software and divest certain assets to two competitors, allowing them to compete head-to-head with Ticketmaster.

Live Nation (LYV) is the world's largest promoter of live concerts.

"The Department of Justice's proposed remedy promotes robust competition for primary ticketing services and preserves incentives for competitors to innovate and discount, which will benefit consumers," said Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney. "The settlement allows for strong competitors to Ticketmaster, allowing concert venues to have more and better choices for their ticketing needs and provides for anti-retaliation provisions which will keep the merged company in check," Varney told reporters.

Without the actions, she said, the merger could have substantially lessened competition in the ticketing industry.

The competing firms Ticketmaster must provide with assets are Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Comcast Spectacor.

After a required 60-day comment period, a federal judge in Washington may approve the proposed settlement upon finding it is in the public interest.

Ticketmaster, headquartered in West Hollywood, California, last year sold more than 141 million tickets worth about $8.9 billion.

Live Nation, headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, owns or operates more than 75 concert venues of various sizes in the United States.

AEG, in Los Angeles, California, owns a variety of venues including the Staples Center in Los Angeles and major arenas in Kansas City, Missouri; Newark, New Jersey; and Ontario, Canada.

The company issued a statement in support of the proposed settlement.

"We are confident that the arrangements we have reached with the parties will serve to increase competition and further the interests of consumers and other participants in the live entertainment industry," it said.

Comcast Spectacor, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, owns major venues and sport franchises. To top of page

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