Originally published: February 1, 2010
Last updated: February 1, 2010 - 4:47pm
[Commentary] The Obama administration made its first major antitrust pronouncement this week, approving the blockbuster merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation.
On the surface, the Justice Department seemed to be continuing the permissive approach it took during the second half of the Bush administration, when it offered so little resistance to mergers that the Wall Street Journal declared the government had "nearly stepped out of the antitrust enforcement business." But the details tell a different story, one that suggests a more aggressive approach to promoting competition while still permitting industries to consolidate to achieve efficiencies. Although it allows the merger to proceed, it effectively engineers the creation of two rivals for the new Live Nation Entertainment by enabling AEG and Comcast Spectacor to lease or buy key ticketing assets from Ticketmaster. As a result, concert halls and sports arenas could wind up with more sources for ticketing services than they had before. The department's approach portends a bumpy road for mergers and acquisitions that can't be engineered to deliver more competition.
That's a message Comcast and NBC Universal should take to heart.
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- Live Nation Said to Bid for Warner Music Group
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