11/06/2009

Ticketmaster Merger Referred To Watchdog

The merger between Ticketmaster and concert promoter Live Nation has been referred to the Competition Commission (CC).

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has referred the proposed tie-up after finding the merger could lessen competition and deny live music-goers the prospect of lower prices.

"The OFT believes that there is a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition resulting from the proposed merger," it said.

The proposed merger also raises concerns about whether Ticketmaster's key position in the ticketing market could lead to the new company restricting competition in the promotion of live music events, for example through limiting access by rival promoters to ticket agent services.

Ali Nikpay, OFT Senior Director said: "Live music is a fast growing industry, currently worth around £1.9 billion a year. We expected CTS's entry, through its contract with Live Nation, to be an important new competitive dynamic in the UK ticketing market.

"The proposed merger risks undermining this by potentially prompting the exit of what would likely have been a third large player from the UK, or at least significantly stunting its effectiveness.

"It creates a realistic prospect that the merger will deny those attending live music events the benefits of more competition in the distribution of tickets, which could include lower overall prices."

The Competition Commission is due to rule on the proposed merger by 24 November.

(JM/KMcA)

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