U.K. Approves Ticketmaster/Live Nation Merger; U.S. to Decide in Early 2010

Just before Christmas, the U.K.’s Competition Commission announced that they had approved the proposed merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation. At the time, Tiny Mix Tapes was too busy fawning over our 2009 year-end feature to have bothered noticing. The decision by the Competition Commission was a surprise, since back in October they had made a preliminary ruling against the deal. They now say that if the deal was blocked it would harm “German ticketing firm CTS Eventim, which signed a deal with Live Nation to expand into the UK in 2007.”

Industry watchers (who are these people?) now wait with bated breath to see how America’s Department of Justice will rule on the deal. Their decision is due early this year. However, “of the 1,726 mergers reported in 2008… the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division challenged only 16.”

Concern has been raised about the merger since Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticket vendor and Live Nation is the world’s largest concert promoter. Visions of an out-of-control corporate empire abound with Ken Solky, President of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, saying the merger would create a behemoth that “could control every part of a live concert, from artist management and promotion to venue management, merchandise sales, and ticket sales and resales.” The two companies see the deal as “creating a new kind of live entertainment business,” according to Chris Edmonds, managing director of Ticketmaster U.K.