Sunday, May 26, 2024

DOJ sues Live Nation/Ticketmaster

Yesterday, I promised that the Sunday entertainment feature would be about Ticketmaster, so without any further ado I'm sharing Yahoo! Finance reporting DOJ files lawsuit seeking to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

US Department of Justice (DOJ) officials filed an antitrust lawsuit against concert promoter and ticket seller Live Nation (LYV) on Thursday, making the case that Live Nation created a monopoly through its ownership of Ticketmaster that ultimately resulted in inflated ticket prices. Live Nation has refuted these claims in a statement, saying Ticketmaster's service fees are no higher — if not lower — than on competing ticketing websites.
Citi Managing Director Jason Bazinet focuses on the DOJ's antitrust crackdown in recent years and whether a breakup outcome would ultimately affect concert and event ticket prices.
"This administration is trying to go back to structuralism, that's what's underpinning a lot of the antitrust actions that they're pursuing," Bazinet outlines. "And so that that's difficult, I think, for the judges to understand because they now have 40-plus years of case law that says this is really all about price. And that's why you see Live Nation in their response, focusing on price."
On the one hand, Citi Managing Director Jason Bazinet expressed a pro-business and government skeptical perspective on this case. He attributes the DOJ bringing this case to a change in legal philosophy, if not outright ideology. On the other, he thinks this case will succeed, despite Live Nation/Ticketmaster's arguments about price. On the gripping hand (hey, the conceit of this blog is that humans are acting like Moties), Bazinet is missing a purely political motive, which I'll get to at the end.

PBS NewsHour hosted a guest with a contrasting opinion in Ticketmaster, Live Nation a monopoly that should be broken up, Justice Department alleges.

The Department of Justice wants the courts to break up Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation, the biggest concert promoter in the U.S. The company has faced intense scrutiny over prices and tickets selling out and reappearing on resale sites. More than two dozen states and the District of Columbia joined the lawsuit. California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined Geoff Bennett to discuss more.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta advocated for the role of government in maintaining free markets. Unregulated markets don't remain free for long. As I wrote last year, "Ticketmaster is a monopoly, which are bad for consumers since there is no competition to drive down prices, so monopolies require regulation. Where's the regulation in this picture? Maybe that's why there were hearings..." Speaking of hearings, MSNBC interviewed one of the Senators who held those hearings in ‘A long time coming’: Sen. Klobuchar on DOJ's Ticketmaster lawsuit before DOJ's press conference.

The Justice Department is set to announce a new lawsuit against Ticketmaster’s owner. NBC News’ Christine Romans has the latest details. Also, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., joins Ana Cabrera to share her thoughts on what needs to be done and discusses the growing calls for Justice Alito to recuse himself from January 6th cases.
For my response, I'm going to repeat what I wrote last year.
Both the Ticketmaster hearings and the closing of Splash Mountain at Disney World qualify this entry as the Sunday entertainment feature. Both news items tie into what I first wrote in 2011, "America is quite clear about its screwed up priorities­. My experience has convinced me that the surest way to get Americans to act is to mess with their entertainm­ent." Both Ticketmaster and Disney messed with (some) Americans' entertainment, although I'm more sympathetic [to] the Swifties than those complaining about Splash Mountain. The former are reacting to a monopoly, while the latter strike me as a bit selfish and insensitive.
That leads me back to the hearings themselves.
The discussion bypassed regulation entirely and went directly to using anti-trust action to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation. Wow! That would be radical action that would create competition, which the market needs.
And that's what DOJ is doing, suing to break up the monopoly.

The federal lawsuit shows that messing with Americans' entertainment is getting the U.S. government to act. Politically involved people may think that there are more important things the DOJ can do, but this is a priority for more Americans. I expect it will be very popular, especially among young people, since Taylor Swift was Time's 2023 Person of the Year and the most searched on Google last year, and it was the problems with getting tickets for her concerts that brought this issue to a head.

That's a wrap for this week's entertainment update. Stay tuned for Memorial Day.

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