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National consumer protection and industry groups issue joint statement on the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger investigation

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Release Date: November 19, 2009
Contact: (202) 835-3323, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WASHINGTON, DC--Consumer and industry groups, including the National Association of Ticket Brokers, the National Consumers League, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Action, and Knowledge Ecology International today released the following joint statement on the ongoing Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger as the Department of Justice (DOJ) moves into final phase of consideration. There have been press reports of potential settlements of the Justice Department investigation, and further reports that Comcast Corporation has met with DOJ officials regarding their participation in the proposed merger.

“There seems to be little dispute after extensive Congressional hearings that the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation raises very profound competitive concerns. That is why fifty Members of Congress – an unprecedented number – have written to the DOJ with concerns about the merger. The Department of Justice has a unique opportunity to protect consumers by preventing this anticompetitive merger and preserving competition and choice in the marketplace.”

“Ticketmaster is well aware that their plans will give them unchecked power to take advantage of consumers who will have no other ticket options. Suggested proposals for a modest spin-off or some other type of remedy are insufficient to protect consumers. Bringing more corporate interests to the table appears to be their last ditch attempt to pretend there are no competitive problems and fool the public - and the authorities - into believing they won’t have full control over tickets, venues, artists, and prices. But that’s clearly not the case.”

The groups noted that the merger proposed by Ticketmaster would be a “disaster” for consumers. The ticketing giant would gain full access to competitive information in the market and unprecedented control over each aspect of the industry from artist management to concert promotion, including ticket distribution and concession stands. This will make transparency and accountability impossible. It will also prevent competitors from entering the market, thereby reducing options for fans and creating a monopoly on the industry.

“Any proposed concessions to DOJ, including transferring some assets to other corporations with relationships to Ticketmaster are non-starters. They will not protect consumers from the looming threat of monopolistic control. Ticketmaster may also propose to agree to some type of limits on their behavior post merger, but for a firm that exploits consumers on a daily basis, those promises are simply not credible. The DOJ has every right, and responsibility, to block this merger and protect what remains of an open, competitive, and consumer-friendly market.”

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About the National Association of Ticket Brokers

The National Association of Ticket Brokers, formed in 1994, is the non-profit trade association dedicated to protecting consumers and the secondary ticket market. For more information on NATB and consumer protection efforts, please visit www.NATB.org.

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

About the Consumer Federation of America

The Consumer Federation of America is a non-profit association of more than 280 groups that, since 1968, has sought to advance the consumer interest through advocacy and education.  For more information, please visit www.consumerfed.org.

About Consumer Action

Consumer Action, founded in 1971, is a national non-profit consumer education organization headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Los Angeles and Washington, DC.  For more information, please visit www.consumer-action.org.

About Knowledge Ecology International

Knowledge Ecology International is a non-profit public interest organization, supporting work carried out earlier by the Consumer Project on Technology (CPTech), an organization that has participated in a number of merger reviews, including those involving legal publishing, retail distribution, and media concentration and telecommunications regulation. www.keionline.org.