Galbraith Speaks Against LN/TM Merger

Former Live Nation UK managing director Stuart Galbraith has hit out at his former employer’s potential merger with Ticketmaster, telling BBC News that he’s made his opinions clear to the Competition Commission.

He says the merger would be bad for music fans and would bump up ticket prices.

“A company that would have that level of monopoly would potentially only have a detrimental effect,” he told BBC 6 Music.

“I can hardly see how you get two companies which both have a history of charging high booking fees then going, great, let’s bring booking fees down.”

Whether the CC – which is expected to give its ruling at the end of November – takes any notice of him or not, going public with his views may rekindle the smouldering battle Galbraith’s had with LN’s London office since the day he left it.

Having been dismissed by LN for breach of contract, the launch of Kilimanjaro Live – the AEG-funded company he now heads – was delayed when even talking about his future plans could have put him in further breach of it.

Having headed the development of LN’s Download Festival and the summer season in London’s Hyde Park, he’s battled his former company on both fronts.

He made an unsuccessful attempt to wrest the Hyde Park contract from LN, appealing and then withdrawing the appeal after the result had gone against him, and then launched Sonisphere Festival, apparently as a U.K. rival to Download and a rock festival brand that can be exported worldwide.

Later in the same radio program, Paul Latham – LN’s chief operating office in the U.K. and effectively the man who fired Galbraith – rebutted his former colleague’s views, pointing out that a 2005 Office Of Fair Trading inquiry had found the 10-year agreement between the two giants limited U.K. booking fees.

“Live Nation has always listened to the people they serve, be they the artists or the ticket buyers, and in the U.S. where there has been a backlash to excessive service charges we have been running No Service Charge Wednesday promotions for the last two months,” he said. “We have to guarantee huge sums to artists and it’s the artists that benefit from ticket prices going up and it’s us that puts up the risk. We’d prefer ticket prices to come down, because we’d be taking less risk.”