Johnson oversees hearing on Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger
Among other things, the hearing focused on the proposed merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which could combine the nation’s biggest concert promoter with the largest seller of tickets for live entertainment.
“Both companies have stated that this merger will not raise ticket prices because the artist sets the ticket price,” said Johnson. “It is one thing to claim that artists such as Bruce Springsteen or Barbara Streisand have the “star power” to exert control over ticket prices, but artists without that clout are not in a position to negotiate the price of their tickets.”
Although monumental efforts were made to include artists on the panel, none came forward.
Live Nation’s CEO Michael Rapino and Ticketmaster Chief Irving Azoff argued in favor of the merger, while expert antitrust attorney Robert Doyle and Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Federation of Public Interest Research Groups argued against.
The Honorable Bill Pascrell Jr., a member of Congress (NJ-08), also testified in opposition to the merger.
The Department of Justice is investigating the possible merger.
Johnson probed the issue in pointed, straight-forward questions, including inquiries into the possibility that Ticketmaster could continue inflating ticket prices on the secondary market.
He brought attention to the recent Bruce Springsteen concert issue where many tickets were sold at far above face value through a secondary ticket outlet owned by Ticketmaster.
“There is a risk that ticket prices will increase and consumers will be harmed by this merger,” said Johnson. “We are not here to gang up on a U.S. business that is doing its best to weather hard economic times, but we want to know how this will affect consumers.”