Pascrell Pokes At TM Merger

A New Jersey representative that took Ticketmaster to task over the Bruce Springsteen ticket snafu in February is still at it – this time penning a letter to colleagues asking for their support in fighting the company’s proposed merger with Live Nation.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, who called for an investigation of the merger by the U.S. Department of Justice, testified before the House Judiciary Committee and sponsored legislation to revamp the ticket industry, is hoping some of his congressional contemporaries will jump aboard the train to derail the proposed deal.

In his letter, Pascrell writes that he has “grave concerns” about the merger, which he claims would violate both horizontal and vertical antitrust principles.

“This merger will have far reaching negative consequences for artists, fans, promoters, and the music industry as a whole,” the Democrat said. “Under the proposed merger, the combined company would have control over nearly every aspect of the live music business: artist management, record sales, promotion, licensing, venue control, parking, ticket sales and resales, all the way down to the hot dogs and beer.”

Ticketmaster and Live Nation previously announced their merger of equals would “expand access, improve transparency and deliver artists and fans more choice,” improving the live entertainment experience and driving innovations in ticket technology and service.

However, Pascrell’s letter cites James Hurwitz of the American Antitrust Institute, who said the combined Live Nation Entertainment would have a “powerful or dominant position in virtually all of the industry’s markets” and control most of the competition within the industry.

Pascrell told the Newark Star-Ledger that keeping the pressure on the Obama administration, which has announced plans to vigorously enforce antitrust laws, is critical at this point.

“Because a ruling is anticipated this fall, now is the ideal time to show opposition from Congress to the merger,” he said. “We want to show [the Justice Department] that support exists for a new approach.”