Red Carpet Treatment For CTS?

The Competition Commission is clearly concerned that the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger may put CTS Eventim’s entry into the U.K. market “in considerable doubt,” but it’s hard to find anyone else in the British live music business who is so worried about CTS.

“We believe that, if the merger proceeds, Live Nation will seek to limit its relationship with CTS [Eventim], with the effect of putting CTS’s future prospects in the U.K. in considerable doubt,” said CC deputy chairman Christopher Clarke, who headed the inquiry into the proposed merger.

Paul Burns of Seatem, one of the U.K. ticket companies that gave evidence to the commission, says he hasn’t spoken to a ticket seller, promoter, or anyone in the U.K. industry who understands why thousands of pounds of British taxpayers’ money is being used to protect a German company.

Burns and many others feel that Eventim is already in the U.K. market by virtue of its agreement with LN. If the American company “limits its relationship” with Eventim to the point that it’s in breach of that agreement, they believe that should be a matter for the High Court.

“I could have understood it if it had been for other reasons,” Metropolis Music managing director Bob Angus told Pollstar.

However, the U.K. Music Managers Forum said the merger wouldn’t allow CTS to enter the market in “the manner anticipated” when it inked the LN deal at the end of 2007. At press time it wasn’t possible to contact the MMF.

Seatem’s submission to the CC went as far as saying Eventim’s entry into the U.K. market wouldn’t necessarily improve competition. Burns says the German company’s business model indicates that it likes to dominate its markets.

Rather than hitting the buffers, it’s more likely the LN-Ticketmaster deal will eventually be allowed in the U.K., provided the two companies can remedy the CC’s worries about it deterring other major competitors from entering the market.

Outside the U.S. and U.K., the deal would affect operations in 13 markets worldwide. Regulators have become involved in only two of them – Turkey and Norway – and in both instances the deal was approved.