Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger cleared again by Competition Commission

Ticketmaster and concert promoter Live Nation’s proposed merger has been cleared again by the UK’s Competition Commission.

Latitude festival
Latitude festival

The commission had originally cleared the deal in December, but agreed to review the decision after a challenge from rival ticket agency Eventim.

The watchdog says the merger would “not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the market” in the UK, despite its provisional ruling claiming it was anti-competitive.

In October 2009, the Commission said It was concerned the deal would lead to higher prices and lower quality of service. Music branding experts have warned it will fail unless the new company offers added value and more choice for fans.

The US Justice Department cleared the tie-up in January.

he UK Competition Commission has now revised its opinion that the deal could lead to music fans paying more for tickets to see live performances. The regulator found that it would not be in the new merged company’s interest to shut out competition.

It adds the new company “would suffer significant and immediate losses, with very uncertain prospects for long-term gain.”

For music gigs to make money, they usually need to sell out. Therefore, the regulator concluded that it would not be in Live Nation’s interest to stop ticket sales through channels other than Ticketmaster.

It claims that blocking the merger would not be in its interest to stop promoting events organised by companies other than Live Nation – because consumers may then go elsewhere.

The Competition Commission was also concerned that the deal would hinder plans for German rival CTS Eventim, with which Live Nation already has a partnership agreement, to enter the UK market, however it says that “the extent of Eventim’s success in the UK will be determined by its own efforts and abilities, and will not be affected significantly by the merger”.

The deal has been approved in Norway and Turkey. The US and Canada have yet to give their rulings.

The managing director of Ticketmaster UK, Chris Edmonds, says the decision was as an important milestone and brought the companies a step closer to “creating a new kind of live entertainment business”.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog) recently named Ticketmaster as a sponsor after appointing it to handle ticketing services for London 2012.

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