UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
COMPETITIVE IMPACT STATEMENT
Plaintiff United States of America ("United States"), pursuant to Section 2(b) of the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act ("APPA" or "Tunney Act"), 15 U.S.C. § 16(b)-(h), files this Competitive Impact Statement relating to the proposed Final Judgment submitted for entry in this civil antitrust proceeding.
I. NATURE AND PURPOSE OF THE PROCEEDING
Defendant Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc. ("Ticketmaster") and Defendant Live Nation, Inc. ("Live Nation") entered into an agreement, dated February 10, 2009, pursuant to which they would merge into a new entity to be known as Live Nation Entertainment. The United States, and the States of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, and the Commonwealths of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania filed a civil antitrust Complaint on January 25, 2010, seeking to enjoin the proposed transaction because its likely effect would be to lessen competition substantially for primary ticketing services to major concert venues located in the United States in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 18. This loss of competition likely would result in higher prices for and less innovation in primary ticketing services.
At the same time the Complaint was filed, the United States also filed a Hold Separate Stipulation and Order ("Hold Separate") and proposed Final Judgment, which are designed to eliminate the anticompetitive effects of the acquisition. Under the proposed Final Judgment, which is explained more fully below, Defendants are required to grant a perpetual license to their Host platform and to divest their entire Paciolan business in order to establish two independent ticketing companies capable of competing effectively with the merged entity. The Final Judgment also prohibits Defendants from engaging in certain conduct that would prevent equally efficient firms from competing effectively. Under the terms of the Hold Separate, Ticketmaster will take certain steps to ensure that the Paciolan business is operated as a competitively independent, economically viable and ongoing business concern that will remain independent and uninfluenced by the consummation of the transaction and to ensure that competition is maintained during the pendency of the ordered divestiture.
The United States and Defendants have stipulated that the proposed Final Judgment may be entered after compliance with the APPA. Entry of the proposed Final Judgment would terminate this action, except that the Court would retain jurisdiction to construe, modify, or enforce the provisions of the proposed Final Judgment and to punish and remedy violations thereof.
II. DESCRIPTION OF THE EVENTS GIVING RISE TO THE ALLEGED VIOLATION
Staging concerts traditionally has required the participation of several parties. Artists provide the entertainment that makes the concert possible. Managers and/or agents represent artists in negotiations to establish the commercial terms on which artists will perform. Promoters contract with artists to perform at particular concerts, assume the financial risk of staging the concerts, make the arrangements for the concerts to occur at certain times and places, and market the concerts. Venues are the physical locations where concerts occur, and venues' owners, operators, or managers usually arrange for the sale of tickets to concerts at their venues. Primary ticketing companies provide services such as websites, call centers, and retail networks from which tickets may be purchased that facilitate the initial sale of tickets to concertgoers.(1)
Contracts between venues and primary ticketing companies are individually negotiated. In a typical contract, a venue agrees to use one primary ticketing company as its exclusive service provider for several years. In exchange, the primary ticketing company often agrees to pay to the venue a portion of the fees that the primary ticketing company charges to concertgoers who purchase tickets to events at the venue. The primary ticketing company also may agree to pay an up-front bonus or advance upon execution of the contract. Primary ticketing contracts typically prohibit venues from reselling the primary ticketing services they receive.
Ticketmaster is the largest primary ticketing company in the United States. In 2008, Ticketmaster earned gross revenues of about $800 million from its U.S. primary ticketing business. Ticketmaster offers two principal primary ticketing products to venues: (1) Host, a Ticketmaster-managed platform for selling tickets through Ticketmaster's website and other sales channels; and (2) Paciolan, a venue-managed platform for selling tickets through the venue's own website and other sales channels. In 2008, Ticketmaster provided primary ticketing services to venues representing more than 80% of major concert venues.(2) In addition to its primary ticketing operations, Ticketmaster expanded into the artist management business in 2008 by acquiring a controlling interest in Front Line Management Group Inc. ("Front Line"), an important artist management firm with clients such as the Eagles, Neil Diamond, Jimmy Buffett, Christina Aguilera and John Mayer.
Live Nation is the largest concert promoter in the United States, earning more than $1.3 billion in revenue from its U.S. promotions business in 2008 and promoting shows representing 33% of the concert revenues at major concert venues in 2008. Live Nation has entered long-term partnerships with several popular artists including Madonna and Jay-Z to exclusively promote their concerts, sell recordings of their music, and market artist-branded merchandise such as T-shirts. Live Nation also owns or operates about 70 major concert venues throughout the United States. And as explained further below, Live Nation entered the market for primary ticketing services in late December 2008.
On February 10, 2009, less than two months after its entry into primary ticketing, Live Nation agreed to merge with Ticketmaster. That proposed transaction would substantially lessen competition and is the subject of the Complaint and proposed Final Judgment filed by the United States in this matter.
Antitrust law, including Section 7 of the Clayton Act, protects consumers from anticompetitive conduct, such as firms' acquisition of the ability to raise prices above levels that would prevail in a competitive market. Market definition assists antitrust analysis by focusing attention on the relevant portions of the economy where competitive effects are likely to be felt. Well-defined markets encompass the economic actors including both sellers and buyers whose conduct most strongly influences the nature and magnitude of competitive effects. To ensure that antitrust analysis takes account of a broad enough set of products to evaluate whether a transaction is likely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition, defining relevant markets in horizontal merger cases frequently begins by identifying a collection of products or set of services over which a hypothetical monopolist profitably could impose a small but significant and non-transitory increase in price. Here, the United States's investigation revealed that major concert venues would have no alternatives to primary ticketing services if prices were to rise significantly above the levels that would have prevailed but for the proposed transaction, so the hypothetical-monopolist test would exclude all other products or services from the relevant market. But that is not the end of the market-definition exercise.
When sellers are unable to set different terms of sale for different buyers, all buyers will face similar competitive effects, and a relevant product market properly (if implicitly) encompasses not only all sellers of the relevant product, but all buyers as well. But when different buyers may experience different competitive effects, a well-defined product market encompassing fewer than all buyers can focus antitrust analysis appropriately on those buyers most vulnerable to suffering probable and significant competitive harm. It also avoids conflating in that analysis those buyers whose prices are likely to be significantly affected with others who are unlikely to be harmed substantially.
One situation in which different buyers experience different effects involves price discrimination, such as when sellers are able to charge different prices to different buyers for equivalent products. Sellers can price discriminate when they are able to identify and target vulnerable buyers for price increases and when buyers facing low prices cannot resell to those facing higher prices. Both conditions are present here. Venues and primary ticketing companies individually negotiate their contracts, and the terms of those contracts typically make it impossible for venues to resell (arbitrage) primary ticketing services.
Because primary ticketing companies can price discriminate among different venues, the proposed transaction could affect different classes of venues differently, and antitrust analysis requires attention to those venues with few alternative primary ticketing providers to Ticketmaster and Live Nation because, if the proposed transaction were consummated, their real-world choices would be reduced differently than would be other venues' options.
Major concert venues require more sophisticated primary ticketing services than other venues, so each tends to select a primary ticketing company with an established reputation for providing good service to similar venues. Ticketmaster has shown that its primary ticketing platform is able to withstand the heavy transaction volume associated with the first hours when tickets to popular concerts become available to concertgoers ("high-volume on-sales"), offers integrated marketing capabilities, and otherwise provides proven, high-quality service to venues. When the proposed transaction was announced, Live Nation was building experience selling tickets to concerts at its own venues as a way to demonstrate to other venues that its primary ticketing platform also performed well. No primary ticketing company other than Ticketmaster and Live Nation has amassed or likely could have amassed in the near term sufficient scale to develop a reputation for successfully delivering similarly sophisticated primary ticketing services. Additionally, Live Nation planned to compete for primary ticketing contracts with major concert venues, but had less interest in serving non-concert venues outside its historically core concert expertise. Because they would have no equally attractive alternative primary ticketing provider to the merged firm, and because they would have benefited more from competition between Ticketmaster and Live Nation, major concert venues are more vulnerable than smaller venues to anticompetitive harms caused by the proposed transaction, and a well-defined relevant market should not encompass customers other than major concert venues. For example, a high school that hires a student to sell tickets to one of its musical productions could be said to be buying "primary ticketing services," but the relevant market can exclude such other venues because there is no significant risk that sales to them would affect Defendants' ability to exercise market power over major concert venues.
Antitrust analysis also must consider the geographic dimensions of competition. Section 7 protects against harm to competition "in any section of the country." 15 U.S.C. § 18. Here, domestic anticompetitive harms would be experienced by major concert venues located throughout the United States. Because the merged firm could price discriminate, any effects of the proposed transaction on foreign venues would be distinct from any effects on domestic venues. Thus, including only major concert venues located in the United States within the relevant market poses no risk of omitting buyers whose inclusion would significantly alter the antitrust analysis.(3)
In short, the sale of primary ticketing services to major concert venues in the United States is a well-defined relevant market for the purpose of analyzing the effects of the proposed transaction.
Until 2009, Ticketmaster dominated the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues in the United States with greater than 80% market share. The only other primary ticketing companies with greater than a 1% share in 2008 were Tickets.com (4%), Front Gate Tickets (3%), New Era Tickets (2%), Live Nation (2%),(4) and Tessitura (1%). Ticketmaster's largest customer for primary ticketing services was Live Nation, the owner or operator of venues representing about 15% of capacity at all major concert venues in the United States in 2008. Ticketmaster renews its primary ticketing contracts at a very high rate. Even though Ticketmaster's distribution costs have declined dramatically as concertgoers have shifted their purchases toward the internet and away from traditional sales channels, the ticketing fees retained by Ticketmaster have not fallen, and Ticketmaster has continued to enjoy large profit margins on its primary ticketing business for many years.
These margins have persisted because they are protected by high barriers to other companies successfully, substantially, and profitably entering or attempting to expand in the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues. First, the platforms required to provide primary ticketing services to major concert venues are technologically complicated and expensive to develop and deploy. Second, major concert venues are reluctant to enter long-term exclusive contracts with new primary ticketing companies because they lack Ticketmaster's established reputation for capably handling high-volume on-sales and providing high-quality service to venues. Third, the costs of installing and training employees to use new equipment make it expensive for venues to switch between primary ticketing companies. Fourth, because there are high fixed costs to develop and maintain a primary ticketing platform, entrants struggle to obtain sufficient scale to compete successfully with Ticketmaster on price. Fifth, Ticketmaster's scale provides another important incumbent advantage over other firms extensive data about individual concertgoers collected over many years. Ticketmaster can use that data as a powerful marketing tool to secure venue contracts for primary ticketing services. Sixth, Ticketmaster's practice of signing long-term exclusive contracts with venues limits how quickly other firms can amass sufficient scale to compete effectively with Ticketmaster on any of these dimensions.
By 2008, Ticketmaster's longstanding dominance faced a major threat. Live Nation was better positioned to overcome the entry barriers discussed above than any other existing or potential competitor because it could achieve sufficient scale to compete effectively with Ticketmaster simply by ticketing its own venues. Live Nation also possessed a unique competitive advantage in that it could bundle access to important concerts with its ticketing service. Recognizing Live Nation's potential to disrupt its dominant position in the market for primary ticketing services, Ticketmaster attempted to renew Live Nation's primary ticketing contract before its December 31, 2008 expiration. But Live Nation instead chose to license technology from CTS Eventim AG ("CTS") that would enable it to sell concert tickets to its own venues beginning in 2009 and to compete with Ticketmaster for other venues' primary ticketing contracts in the future.
This competition began even before Live Nation's contract with Ticketmaster expired. On September 11, 2008, Live Nation announced that SMG the largest venue management company in the United States, with the ability to control or influence the selection of primary ticketing companies at more than 40 major concert venues had agreed to use Live Nation's primary ticketing services, if Live Nation could provide a primary ticketing platform comparable to other leading primary ticketing companies. SMG was Ticketmaster's third largest customer (behind only Live Nation and Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc.), but it switched to Live Nation because SMG expected that, if it used Live Nation's primary ticketing services, Live Nation would use its strength in promotions to bring more concerts to SMG-managed venues. On October 14, 2008, Live Nation announced that it would provide primary ticketing services to New York City's Roseland Ballroom, another former Ticketmaster client. By 2009, Live Nation provided primary ticketing services to more than 15% of the capacity at major concert venues in the United States.
Ticketmaster responded to competition from Live Nation in several ways. First, it offered more attractive renewal terms to customers with expiring contracts than it had customarily offered in order to lock customers into long-term deals before Live Nation could sign them. Second, Ticketmaster acquired a controlling interest in Front Line on October 23, 2008. Front Line's strength in artist management enabled Ticketmaster for the first time to offer venues a package of primary ticketing services and concert content that could rival Live Nation's ticketing-and-content package. Finally, Ticketmaster moved to eliminate Live Nation entirely as a competitor by agreeing to the proposed transaction less than two months after Live Nation began ticketing with the CTS platform.
The proposed transaction would extinguish competition between Ticketmaster and Live Nation and thereby eliminate the financial benefits that venues enjoyed during the brief period when Live Nation was poised to challenge Ticketmaster's dominance. The proposed transaction would also diminish innovation in primary ticketing services because the merged firm would have reduced incentives to develop new features. Further, the proposed transaction would result in even higher barriers to entry and expansion in the market for primary ticketing services. In addition to the long-standing entry barriers discussed above, the merged firm's ability to bundle primary ticketing services (implicitly or explicitly) with access to artists managed by Front Line and/or promoted by Live Nation would require competitors to offer venues both primary ticketing services and access to content in order to compete most effectively.
Defendants have asserted that the proposed transaction will generate efficiencies sufficient to counteract any anticompetitive effects. More specifically, they have contended that the vertical integration of Ticketmaster and Live Nation's complementary businesses will reduce the number of industry participants who currently must be compensated for a concert to be produced and, thus, will allow the merged entity to reduce the prices paid by venues for primary ticketing services and by concertgoers for tickets. While appreciating that vertical integration may benefit consumers in some situations, the United States does not fully credit Defendants' efficiency claims because they each could realize many of the asserted efficiencies without consummating the proposed transaction. Ticketmaster and Live Nation each already had expanded vertically before they agreed to the proposed transaction, and but for the proposed transaction, venues and concertgoers would have continued to enjoy the benefits of competition between two vertically integrated competitors. A vertically integrated monopoly is less likely to spur innovation and efficiency than competition between vertically integrated firms, and a vertically integrated monopoly is unlikely to pass the benefits of innovation and efficiency onto consumers.
Defendants also contended that Live Nation's impact on ticketing would be minimal because of shortcomings in Live Nation's ticketing platform, including the absence of a season ticketing component, which is important for a number of venues. Though the CTS platform was originally designed for use in Europe, Live Nation and CTS have invested heavily to adapt it for use in the United States. In the first six months of 2009, Live Nation used the CTS platform to sell more than 6 million tickets to concerts at its U.S. venues. Before entering the proposed transaction, Live Nation had planned to continue improving the CTS platform, including developing a season ticketing component, to make it more attractive to potential third-party venue clients in the United States.
III. EXPLANATION OF THE PROPOSED FINAL JUDGMENT
The proposed Final Judgment will eliminate the anticompetitive effects of the proposed transaction in the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues in four principal ways.
First, the Final Judgment will enable Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc. ("AEG") to become a new, independent, economically viable, and vertically integrated competitor in the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues. AEG is the second largest promoter in the United States (behind Live Nation), promoting shows representing about 14% of concert revenues at major concert venues in 2008. No company other than AEG or Live Nation promotes concerts representing more than 4% of the concert revenues from major concert venues. AEG also owns, operates, or manages more than 30 major concert venues, representing about 8% of the capacity at major U.S. concert venues, and it can select (or influence the selection of) the primary ticketing company for those venues. In addition, AEG owns one-half of an important artist management firm with several popular clients, including Justin Timberlake and the Jonas Brothers. Due to its significant presence in promotions, venues, and artist management, AEG is the company best positioned to achieve the necessary scale, overcome the other entry barriers discussed above, and compete successfully with the merged firm in the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues.
The Final Judgment facilitates AEG's entry through a two-stage process that gives it access to Ticketmaster's core primary ticketing platform, which AEG can then use to service its own venues and to sell primary ticketing services to third-party venues. In the first stage, which must begin within six months of the proposed transaction's consummation and may continue for up to five years, the Final Judgment requires Defendants to provide AEG with its own branded website based on Ticketmaster's Host platform, including any upgrades and enhancements (the "AEG Site"). AEG has the right to use the AEG Site to sell tickets to events at specified venues it currently owns, operates, and manages as well as to events at any other venues from which AEG secures the right to provide primary ticketing services. Though AEG must pay Defendants royalties for each ticket sold through the AEG Site, those royalties are below the average rate Ticketmaster currently charges, and Defendants have no control over AEG's final prices. These provisions immediately provide AEG incentives to compete with Defendants and diminish the risk that AEG would be unable to compete successfully had it attempted to deploy a less established primary ticketing platform.
The Final Judgment also requires Defendants to provide AEG with an option to acquire a perpetual, fully paid-up license to the then-current version of Ticketmaster's Host platform, including a copy of the source code, which Defendants must install and then support during the first six months after its installation. AEG is permitted to exercise this option within four years of the proposed transaction's consummation, which will allow AEG to assume full responsibility for operating its own primary ticketing business, independently of Defendants.
The Final Judgment gives AEG incentives to exercise its option to acquire a copy of Host (or to develop or acquire a competing primary ticketing platform) by prohibiting Defendants from providing primary ticketing services to AEG's venues after AEG's right to use the AEG Site expires. That provision is critical to preserving competition in the primary ticketing services market because it guarantees that, within five years, AEG will have to either supply its own primary ticketing services or obtain them from some company other than the merged firm. Because AEG cannot rely indefinitely on the AEG Site, it will have incentives to plan for the future. Even if AEG's plans do not involve exercising its option to acquire a copy of Host, the Final Judgment will preserve competition because AEG will have to contract for primary ticketing services with one of Defendants' rivals. AEG's ticket volume would give that primary ticketing company sufficient scale and credibility to compete effectively with the merged firm.
Second, the Final Judgment's requirement that Defendants divest Ticketmaster's entire Paciolan business will establish another independent and economically viable competitor in the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues. Ticketmaster currently licenses its Paciolan platform both directly to venues representing 3% of major U.S. concert venue capacity and to other primary ticketing companies that sublicense the Paciolan platform to venues representing an additional 4% of the relevant market. Before consummating the proposed transaction, Defendants must enter a letter of intent to divest to Comcast-Spectacor, L.P. ("Comcast-Spectacor") the entire Paciolan business, including all intellectual property in the Paciolan platform and all contracts with venue and primary ticketing company licensees of that platform. Through its New Era Tickets ("New Era") subsidiary, which currently licenses the Paciolan platform from Ticketmaster, Comcast-Spectacor already provides primary ticketing services to venues representing 2% of major concert venue capacity. In addition to its interest in New Era, Comcast-Spectacor owns 2 major U.S. concert venues and manages 15 others. When combined with New Era's ticketing business and Comcast-Spectacor's venue presence, the Paciolan business that the Final Judgment requires Defendants to divest would provide Comcast-Spectacor sufficient scale to compete effectively and independently with the merged firm in the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues. Comcast-Spectacor and others have contended that the movement in primary ticketing services will be towards "self-enablement" models, such as Paciolan, which allow a venue to manage its own ticketing platform.
Within 60 days of signing the letter of intent, the Paciolan business must be divested in such a way as to satisfy the United States in its sole discretion, and in consultation with the Plaintiff states, that the operations can and will be operated by Comcast-Spectacor or an alternative purchaser as a viable, ongoing business that can compete effectively in the relevant market. Defendants must take all reasonable steps necessary to accomplish the divestiture quickly and shall cooperate with any prospective purchaser. In the event that Defendants do not accomplish the Paciolan divestiture in a timely fashion, the Final Judgment provides that the Court will appoint a trustee selected by the United States to effect the divestiture. If a trustee is appointed, the proposed Final Judgment provides that Defendants will pay all costs and expenses of the trustee. The trustee's commission will be structured so as to provide an incentive for the trustee based on the price obtained and the speed with which the divestiture is accomplished. After his or her appointment becomes effective, the trustee will file monthly reports with the Court and the United States setting forth his or her efforts to accomplish the divestiture. At the end of six months, if the divestiture has not been accomplished, the trustee and the United States will make recommendations to the Court, which shall enter such orders as appropriate, in order to carry out the purpose of the trust, including extending the trust or the term of the trustee's appointment.
Third, the Final Judgment prohibits Defendants from engaging in certain conduct that would impede effective competition from equally efficient rivals that may or may not be not vertically integrated. Thus, the Final Judgment proscribes retaliation against venue owners who contract or consider contracting for primary ticketing services with Defendants' competitors. The Final Judgment also prohibits Defendants from explicitly or practically requiring venues to take their primary ticketing services if the venues only want to obtain concerts the Defendants promote or concerts by artists the Defendants manage, and it likewise prohibits Defendants from explicitly or practically requiring venues to take concerts they promote or concerts by artists they manage if those venues only want to obtain the Defendants' primary ticketing services. These provisions preserve the ability of primary ticketing companies that do not also have access to content (and promoters and artist managers that do not also provide primary ticketing services) to continue competing with Defendants. Elsewhere, the Final Judgment prevents Defendants from abusing their position in the primary ticketing market to impede competition among promoters and artist managers by requiring that Defendants either refrain from using certain ticketing data in their non-ticketing businesses or provide that data to other promoters and artist managers. Finally, the Final Judgment mandates that Defendants provide any current primary ticketing client with that client's ticketing data promptly upon request, if the client chooses not to renew its primary ticketing contract. That provision reduces venues' switching costs and lowers barriers to other companies competing for Defendants' primary ticketing clients because it ensures that those venue clients will not be forced to relinquish valuable data if they decide to switch primary ticketing service providers.
Fourth, the Final Judgment requires Defendants to notify the United States at least thirty days before acquiring any assets of or any interest in any firm engaged in providing primary ticketing services in the United States, regardless of whether the acquisition would otherwise be subject to reporting pursuant to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, 15 U.S.C. § 18a. If the United States requests additional information within thirty days of the Defendants notifying it of an acquisition, the Final Judgment prohibits Defendants from consummating the acquisition until twenty days after providing the requested information. These provisions facilitate the vigilant and effective oversight that will be necessary to guard against the potential for Defendants to frustrate the purposes of the Final Judgment.
In short, the Final Judgment will eliminate the anticompetitive effects of the proposed transaction in the provision of primary ticketing services to major concert venues in the United States while preserving the possibility of efficiency-enhancing vertical integration in the concert industry and also preserving competition from Defendants' non-vertically integrated rivals.
IV. REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO POTENTIAL PRIVATE LITIGANTS
Section 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15, provides that any person who has been injured as a result of conduct prohibited by the antitrust laws may bring suit in federal court to recover three times the damages the person has suffered, as well as costs and reasonable attorneys' fees. Entry of the proposed Final Judgment will neither impair nor assist the bringing of any private antitrust damage action. Under the provisions of Section 5(a) of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 16(a), the proposed Final Judgment has no prima facie effect in any subsequent private lawsuit that may be brought against Defendants.
V. PROCEDURES AVAILABLE FOR MODIFICATION
The United States and Defendants have stipulated that the proposed Final Judgment may be entered by the Court after compliance with the provisions of the APPA, provided that the United States has not withdrawn its consent. The APPA conditions entry upon the Court's determination that the proposed Final Judgment is in the public interest.
The APPA provides a period of at least sixty (60) days preceding the effective date of the proposed Final Judgment within which any person may submit to the United States written comments regarding the proposed Final Judgment. Any person who wishes to comment should do so within sixty (60) days of the date of publication of this Competitive Impact Statement in the Federal Register, or the last date of publication in a newspaper of the summary of this Competitive Impact Statement, whichever is later. All comments received during this period will be considered by the United States Department of Justice, which remains free to withdraw its consent to the proposed Final Judgment at any time prior to the Court's entry of judgment. The comments and the response of the United States will be filed with the Court and published in the Federal Register.
Written comments should be submitted to:
John R. Read
The proposed Final Judgment provides that the Court retains jurisdiction over this action, and the parties may apply to the Court for any order necessary or appropriate for the modification, interpretation, or enforcement of the Final Judgment.
VI. ALTERNATIVES TO THE PROPOSED FINAL JUDGMENT
The United States considered, as an alternative to the proposed Final Judgment, a settlement that would have required Defendants to divest the current set of divestiture assets to Comcast-Spectacor. The United States rejected that settlement because it would not have been as effective as the remedy embodied in the proposed Final Judgment at replicating the competitive dynamics that would have prevailed in the market for primary ticketing services had the proposed transaction not occurred.
As another alternative to the proposed Final Judgment, the United States considered a full trial on the merits against Defendants. The United States could have continued the litigation and sought preliminary and permanent injunctions against Defendants' merger. The United States is satisfied, however, that the divestiture of assets and prohibitions of anticompetitive practices described in the proposed Final Judgment will preserve competition for the provision of primary ticketing services to major concert venues in the United States. Thus, the proposed Final Judgment would protect competition as effectively as would any remedy available through litigation, but avoids the time, expense, and uncertainty of a full trial on the merits of the Complaint.
VII. STANDARD OF REVIEW UNDER THE APPA
The Clayton Act, as amended by the APPA, requires that proposed consent judgments in antitrust cases brought by the United States be subject to a sixty-day comment period, after which the court shall determine whether entry of the proposed Final Judgment "is in the public interest." 15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(1). In making that determination, the court, in accordance with the statute as amended in 2004, is required to consider:
(A) the competitive impact of such judgment, including termination of alleged violations, provisions for enforcement and modification, duration of relief sought, anticipated effects of alternative remedies actually considered, whether its terms are ambiguous, and any other competitive considerations bearing upon the adequacy of such judgment that the court deems necessary to a determination of whether the consent judgment is in the public interest; and
15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(1)(A) & (B). In considering these statutory factors, the court's inquiry is necessarily a limited one as the government is entitled to "broad discretion to settle with the defendant within the reaches of the public interest." United States v. Microsoft Corp., 56 F.3d 1448, 1461 (D.C. Cir. 1995); see generally United States v. SBC Commc'ns, Inc., 489 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2007) (assessing public interest standard under the Tunney Act); United States v. InBev N.V./S.A., No. 08-1965 (JR), 2009-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) ¶76,736, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84787, at *3 (D.D.C. Aug. 11, 2009) (noting that the court's review of a consent judgment is limited and only inquires "into whether the government's determination that the proposed remedies will cure the antitrust violations alleged in the complaint was reasonable, and whether the mechanism to enforce the final judgment are clear and manageable.").(5)
As the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has held, under the APPA a court considers, among other things, the relationship between the remedy secured and the specific allegations set forth in the government's complaint, whether the decree is sufficiently clear, whether enforcement mechanisms are sufficient, and whether the decree may positively harm third parties. See Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1458-62. With respect to the adequacy of the relief secured by the decree, a court may not "engage in an unrestricted evaluation of what relief would best serve the public." United States v. BNS, Inc., 858 F.2d 456, 462 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing United States v. Bechtel Corp., 648 F.2d 660, 666 (9th Cir. 1981)); see also Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1460-62; United States v. Alcoa, Inc., 152 F. Supp. 2d 37, 40 (D.D.C. 2001); InBev, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84787, at *3. Courts have held that:
[t]he balancing of competing social and political interests affected by a proposed antitrust consent decree must be left, in the first instance, to the discretion of the Attorney General. The court's role in protecting the public interest is one of insuring that the government has not breached its duty to the public in consenting to the decree. The court is required to determine not whether a particular decree is the one that will best serve society, but whether the settlement is "within the reaches of the public interest." More elaborate requirements might undermine the effectiveness of antitrust enforcement by consent decree.
Bechtel, 648 F.2d at 666 (emphasis added) (citations omitted).(6) In determining whether a proposed settlement is in the public interest, a district court "must accord deference to the government's predictions about the efficacy of its remedies, and may not require that the remedies perfectly match the alleged violations." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 17; see also Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1461 (noting the need for courts to be "deferential to the government's predictions as to the effect of the proposed remedies"); United States v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., 272 F. Supp. 2d 1, 6 (D.D.C. 2003) (noting that the court should grant due respect to the United States' prediction as to the effect of proposed remedies, its perception of the market structure, and its views of the nature of the case).
Courts have greater flexibility in approving proposed consent decrees than in crafting their own decrees following a finding of liability in a litigated matter. "[A] proposed decree must be approved even if it falls short of the remedy the court would impose on its own, as long as it falls within the range of acceptability or is 'within the reaches of public interest.'" United States v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 552 F. Supp. 131, 151 (D.D.C. 1982) (citations omitted) (quoting United States v. Gillette Co., 406 F. Supp. 713, 716 (D. Mass. 1975)), aff'd sub nom. Maryland v. United States, 460 U.S. 1001 (1983); see also United States v. Alcan Aluminum Ltd., 605 F. Supp. 619, 622 (W.D. Ky. 1985) (approving the consent decree even though the court would have imposed a greater remedy). To meet this standard, the United States "need only provide a factual basis for concluding that the settlements are reasonably adequate remedies for the alleged harms." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 17.
Moreover, the court's role under the APPA is limited to reviewing the remedy in relationship to the violations that the United States has alleged in its Complaint, and does not authorize the court to "construct [its] own hypothetical case and then evaluate the decree against that case." Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1459; see also InBev, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84787, at *20 ("[T]he 'public interest' is not to be measured by comparing the violations alleged in the complaint against those the court believes could have, or even should have, been alleged."). Because the "court's authority to review the decree depends entirely on the government's exercising its prosecutorial discretion by bringing a case in the first place," it follows that "the court is only authorized to review the decree itself," and not to "effectively redraft the complaint" to inquire into other matters that the United States did not pursue. Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1459-60. As this Court recently confirmed in SBC Communications, courts "cannot look beyond the complaint in making the public interest determination unless the complaint is drafted so narrowly as to make a mockery of judicial power." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 15.
In its 2004 amendments, Congress made clear its intent to preserve the practical benefits of utilizing consent decrees in antitrust enforcement, adding the unambiguous instruction that "[n]othing in this section shall be construed to require the court to conduct an evidentiary hearing or to require the court to permit anyone to intervene." 15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(2). The language wrote into the statute what Congress intended when it enacted the Tunney Act in 1974, as Senator Tunney explained: "[t]he court is nowhere compelled to go to trial or to engage in extended proceedings which might have the effect of vitiating the benefits of prompt and less costly settlement through the consent decree process." 119 Cong. Rec. 24,598 (1973) (statement of Senator Tunney). Rather, the procedure for the public interest determination is left to the discretion of the court, with the recognition that the court's "scope of review remains sharply proscribed by precedent and the nature of Tunney Act proceedings." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 11.(7)
VIII. DETERMINATIVE DOCUMENTS
In formulating the proposed Final Judgment, the United States considered the AEG/TM Technology Agreement, dated January 11, 2010 and attached hereto as Exhibit A,(8) to be a determinative document within the meaning of the APPA.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I, Aaron Hoag, hereby certify that on January 25, 2010, I caused a copy of the Competitive Impact Statement and attached Exhibit to be served on defendants Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc., and Live Nation, Inc., and the plaintiff States of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, and Commonwealths of Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania by mailing the documents via email to the duly authorized legal representatives of the parties, as follows:
FOR TICKETMASTER ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
FOR LIVE NATION, INC.
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF ARIZONA
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF ARKANSAS
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF CALIFORNIA
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF FLORIDA
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF ILLINOIS
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF IOWA
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF LOUISIANA
FOR PLAINTIFF COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF NEBRASKA
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF NEVADA
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF OHIO
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF OREGON
FOR PLAINTIFF COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF RHODE ISLAND
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF TENNESSEE
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF TEXAS
FOR PLAINTIFF STATE OF WISCONSIN
1. After their initial sale, concert tickets may be resold on the secondary ticketing market. Ticket brokers purchase tickets with the intention of reselling them to concertgoers. Secondary ticketing companies provide services that facilitate the resale of tickets to concertgoers by ticket brokers and others.
2. While the conclusions reached in the antitrust analysis described below are not sensitive to the precise number of venues included within this class, for purposes of this Competitive Impact Statement, "major concert venues" are the 500 U.S. venues generating the greatest concert revenues in 2008, as reported in Pollstar, a leading source of concert industry information. Concert ticket revenues from events at these venues represent more than 90% of the concert ticket revenues at all venues reported in Pollstar. Major concert venues are a diverse group, which includes large stadiums and arenas with relatively few concerts (e.g., the Verizon Center in Washington, DC), mid-sized amphitheaters that host concerts regularly during certain seasons (e.g., Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, VA), and smaller clubs and theaters with frequent concerts throughout the year (e.g., Warner Theatre in Washington, DC and Live Nation's House of Blues clubs). To account for this diversity, venues are weighted by their capacity in calculating shares of the market for primary ticketing services to major concert venues. Only public sources of information were used to calculate the market shares described in this Competitive Impact Statement.
3. In this case, there are not significant transportation costs associated with the relevant services, so sellers' locations do little to inform the market-definition inquiry, though they are not irrelevant to antitrust analysis. To the contrary, only sellers capable of serving major concert venues located in the United States can compete with Defendants in the relevant market. Many of those sellers are located within the United States, but some are foreign firms, as suggested by Live Nation's adaptation of a European primary ticketing platform for use in the United States, which is discussed below. Foreign sellers historically have not competed effectively in the United States because of the significant investments required to enter the domestic market. Still, Live Nation's example suggests that, with a significant investment of time and money, foreign primary ticketing companies might be capable of adapting their products for U.S. customers.
4. Before 2009, by virtue as its position as a promoter, Live Nation received roughly 10% of the tickets to concerts it promoted, and it sold those tickets to concertgoers through its MusicToday subsidiary and a platform licensed from eTix. Live Nation also used the MusicToday platform to provide primary ticketing services to a few small venues.
5. The 2004 amendments substituted "shall" for "may" in directing relevant factors for court to consider and amended the list of factors to focus on competitive considerations and to address potentially ambiguous judgment terms. Compare 15 U.S.C. § 16(e) (2004), with 15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(1) (2006); see also SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 11 (concluding that the 2004 amendments "effected minimal changes" to Tunney Act review).
6. Cf. BNS, 858 F.2d at 464 (holding that the court's "ultimate authority under the [APPA] is limited to approving or disapproving the consent decree"); United States v. Gillette Co., 406 F. Supp. 713, 716 (D. Mass. 1975) (noting that, in this way, the court is constrained to "look at the overall picture not hypercritically, nor with a microscope, but with an artist's reducing glass"). See generally Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1461 (discussing whether "the remedies [obtained in the decree are] so inconsonant with the allegations charged as to fall outside of the 'reaches of the public interest'").
7. See United States v. Enova Corp., 107 F. Supp. 2d 10, 17 (D.D.C. 2000) (noting that the "Tunney Act expressly allows the court to make its public interest determination on the basis of the competitive impact statement and response to comments alone"); United States v. Mid-Am. Dairymen, Inc., 1977-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) ¶ 61,508, at 71,980 (W.D. Mo. 1977) ("Absent a showing of corrupt failure of the government to discharge its duty, the Court, in making its public interest finding, should . . . carefully consider the explanations of the government in the competitive impact statement and its responses to comments in order to determine whether those explanations are reasonable under the circumstances."); S. Rep. No. 93-298, 93d Cong., 1st Sess., at 6 (1973) ("Where the public interest can be meaningfully evaluated simply on the basis of briefs and oral arguments, that is the approach that should be utilized.").
8. The United States redacted competitively sensitive information and information unrelated to U.S. markets from the version of the AEG/TM Technology Agreement attached as Exhibit A.