Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Government should block Live-Nation - Ticketmaster merger

I am very skeptical of the government interfering in the private marketplace. I am a liberal democrat in the sense of supporting a big government to guarantee "the big things" such as public safety, healthcare, and education. I think that should be done using our free market system as much as possible rather than government rules or government run systems.

Beyond that I believe in the government staying out of business as much as possible.

When I first heard of the Congressional hearing concerning the proposed merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, I assumed I would be against any anti-trust action against these companies. We're talking about tickets to concerts rather than something really important.

Yet, as the hearing went on, it became clear that the implications of these companies merging would potentially dominate a whole industry and way of life. Live Nation promotes and controls the venues for almost all the big concerts in the nation. Ticketmaster controls the ticketing at almost all the major venues throughout the country. A merger of these two would give the new company leverage over the music industry well beyond the obvious. From the lyrical content, artist development, promotion, distribution of merchandise, etc. This company would have the leverage to dictate without any real competition.

It would be just like the government of the Concert industry. That is a problem. It is un-American. We progress as a nation when we have competition of ideas, business models, and just plain choice. Once there is a lack of choice, then power becomes concentrated in too few hands. It is always possible to think of the good that a powerful entity could exercise, but inevitably it is the bad they will ultimately do that forces us to stay vigilant against the "big" whether it's government or business or whatever.

I think the scope of this proposed deal is so vast that the government should get involved and prohibit it. In fact, the Congress might want to go further and try to encourage competition in the music industry as it is now whether it is tickets, concert promotion, or some other aspect.

Democrats should always be wary of using the government to force changes in a free market. It is that system that makes America the best in the world.

But this is a case of using the government ot maintain a free market.

Exactly the principle we should vindicate.

Craig Farmer
making the word "liberal" safe again!

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