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January 25, 2010

Ticketmaster Merger OK'd - But With Conditions to Bolster Competition in Ticket Business

Iowa joined the U.S. Justice Dept. and 16 other states today in an agreement with Ticketmaster Entertainment that aims to bolster competition in the giant ticket-selling industry.

“The goal is to protect consumers,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. “We want to foster competition in this industry, give consumers and businesses more choices, and give consumers the best possible prices, including reduced service fees for tickets.”

Ticketmaster – the world’s largest ticketing company, which sold tickets worth almost $9 billion in 2008 – wanted to merge with Live Nation Inc., the world’s largest promoter of live concerts, and owner or operator of more than 75 concert venues.

State Attorneys General and the Justice Dept. investigated the merger plan, and they filed a civil antitrust lawsuit today in federal district court in Washington, D.C., to block the proposed merger. At the same time, they filed a proposed settlement that would resolve the competitive concerns of their lawsuit. The settlement must be approved by the court.

Under the settlement, Ticketmaster must take numerous steps to preserve competition in the ticket-selling industry. It must license its ticket software and divest ticketing assets to two other companies that would compete with Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster also will be subject to numerous court-ordered restrictions to prevent retaliation against any venue owner that chooses another company’s ticketing services or another company’s promotional services. (For full list of settlement terms, go to U.S. DOJ website – -- and Ticketmaster news release.)

Without the pro-competition agreement, the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger would have substantially reduced competition for “primary ticketing” in the U.S. -- the sale of event tickets online, by phone, and at venues, the states and DOJ said.

“We think this agreement will allow for strong competition with Ticketmaster,” Miller said, “and that can only benefit consumers who are buying tickets.”

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