The way BusinessWeek media critic Jon Fine sees it, the proposed merger of concert promotion giant Live Nation and ticket selling giant Ticketmaster is the Obama Administration’s “equivalent of finding a pony by the tree on Christmas morning.” He can’t find any political downside to the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division rejecting the merger of two companies that are pretty much universally despised.
Bruce Springsteen has already denounced the proposed merger as “a near-monopoly situation in music ticketing.” You can now add Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) as officially opposed as well.
Indeed, both companies have lots of enemies, who accuse them of driving up ticket prices and, in the case of Live Nation, of having too much of a strangle hold on the concert business. Ticketmaster, by the way, was just sued in Canada on a claim that its premium-priced TicketsNow service violates the country’s anti-scalping law. As much as both companies are hated, Fine’s article suggests that Ticketmaster may even be hated less than Live Nation. So, he sees it as a no-brainer for the new Obama DOJ to kill the merger.
“If there is a political downside to doing so, neither I nor anyone I talked to can discern it,” Fine wrote.
The would-be merger partners are expected to make the case to DOJ that their services are “overwhelmingly complementary,” rather than competitive. But then, there’s the little matter that Live Nation recently launched its own ticket-selling operation. It had previously been Ticketmaster’s biggest client. And, should they plead financial stress, Fine notes that both companies remain profitable as standalones.