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Arkansas Attorney General joins Ticketmaster antitrust lawsuit

Attorney General candidate Tim Griffin, seen here outside the Arkansas State Capitol on April 17, 2015, has a strong lead in the race according to a new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll.
Michael Hibblen
Little Rock Public Radio
Griffin is joining 29 other attorneys general to sue Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation, saying they are a monopoly.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin is joining a nationwide antitrust lawsuit against a ticket company.

Griffin is teaming up with 29 other attorneys general to sue the company Ticketmaster along with its parent company Live Nation. A statement from his office says “concert goers, artists and venue operations are at the mercy of these companies.”

The suit says the company engages in business practices that squash competition and ultimately amount to a monopoly, though Live Nation and Ticketmaster dispute this.

“It is often said that music requires little more than “three chords and the truth,” the suit says. “In our modern economy, the live music industry requires that plus competition.”

The suit says Ticketmaster through Live Nation controls over 200 concert venues in North America, including some of the top amphitheaters in the United States. The suit says the company brings in over $22 billion in one year of revenue. They have a diagram in the court documents describing the way the company finances itself.

The suit lists several examples of behavior they call “anti-competitive.” This includes acquiring smaller ticketing companies, preventing venues from entering into contracts with other ticket companies, and not letting artists use companies other than Ticketmaster.

The company says they have competition. In a statement, Ticketmaster wrote “every year, competition in the industry drives Live Nation to earn lower take rates from both concert promotion and ticketing.”

The lawsuit says Ticketmaster has “70% market share in large amphitheater promotions,” and that no other company is that close to the power wielded by Ticketmaster.

It also argues that the company has the liberty to overcharge fees to fans, since they have no other industry competition. Often when buying tickets, the company will tack on charges with titles such as “service,” “VIP,” or “handling fees.”

“Whatever the name of the fee,” the suit says. “And however the fees are packaged and collected, they are essentially a “Ticketmaster Tax” that ultimately raises the price fans pay.”

Ticketmaster says “The DOJ suit is blaming concert promoters and ticketing companies — neither of which control ticket prices — for high ticket prices.”

The suit was filed in New York’s Southern District, and asks for a jury trial and financial penalties. This comes as the Department of Justice is also suing the two companies on similar grounds.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.