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Antitrust hearing set for tomorrow in ticketing saga

Ticketmaster, Live NationThe potential merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster will face off against the Department of Justice tomorrow as the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights will decide whether the two concert industry superpowers can join forces or if whether the merger violates monopoly laws.

The hearing will be titled “The Ticketmaster/Live Nation Merger: What Does it Mean for Consumers and the Future of the Concert Business?” Confirmed witness include Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff, Live Nation president Michael Rapino, JAM Productions chairman Jerry Mickelson and the Center of American Progress’ David A. Balto, Pollstar reports.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster shocked the music industry a few weeks back when they announced plans to merge their competing companies, just months after Live Nation broke away from Ticketmaster and established its own ticketing service. What ensued was an arms race between the two companies, as Ticketmaster acquired secondary ticketing site TicketsNow and Frontline Management, while Live Nation struck deals with Blockbuster Video and signed artists like Jay-Z and Madonna to massive 360 deals. While in brief competition with one another, the two companies have stockpiled all facets of the concert industry, so the merging of the two has brought about accusations of violating antitrust laws.

Among the politicians sitting on the subcommittee will be New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who openly criticized Ticketmaster after a fiasco concerning Bruce Springsteen tickets, and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who in the past has lobbied against music piracy. Bruce Springsteen also recently blasted the potential merger following the incident where Ticketmaster sent fans to the overpriced secondary site TicketsNow when normal-priced seats were still available.

The U.S. Committee on the Judiciary Web site will broadcast tomorrow’s proceedings starting at 2:30 p.m. EST.

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