FT Opposes Double Act

The U.S. Department of Justice shouldn’t allow the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger to go ahead in its present form, according to the Financial Times.

The U.K.’s foremost international business paper says the music industry often gets excited when two well-established solo performers come together to form a double act, but this merger would “allow a single entity great control throughout the process from signing up acts to staging events and selling tickets.”

The U.K.’s Competition Commission’s provisionally ruled against the merger because it would “severely inhibit” a serious new rival from competing in the British retail ticketing market and the FT believes that is also true for the much larger U.S. market.

The paper says the main focus for possible concessions should be the primary ticketing market.

“Seeking to cut into Ticketmaster’s standalone dominance here is not the answer,” it said.

“Instead, one possible remedy would be the prospect of transferring Live Nation’s agreement with CTS Eventim, the largest ticketing company in Europe, to a third party in a way that would produce a credible rival.”

Live Nation chief Michael Rapino has said the merger won’t affect the 10-year deal signed with Eventim at the end of 2007, but the CC appears to believe otherwise.

“We will continue to honour the CTS deal,” Rapino told Pollstar a few days before sending out the same message during LN’s earnings call at the beginning of March.

“This removes all speculation. We have never doubted the contractual fidelity of Live Nation,” was Eventim chief Klaus-Peter Schulenberg’s response at the time.

Many in the U.K. live music industry, including some who are opposed to the merger, believe the LN contract secures Eventim’s position in the British market and it should be a High Court matter if the American entertainment giant fails to deliver its side of the deal.

The CC will deliver its final decision on the merger at the end of this month.