The UK Competition Commission has already ruled provisionally that the proposed merger of Live Nation (NYSE: LYV) and Ticketmaster would hurt competition. Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting, shock of shocks, that the U.S. Department of Justice isn’t thrilled either. Unidentified sources tell the Journal that DOJ wants some equally unidentified major concessions to let the deal go through. The effect on consumers is one major concern but DOJ is also looking at the impact on musicians, an issue that has been in the spotlight since the proposed merger was announced in February. One potential solution could also be a dealbreaker: the Journal says that the sale of artist-management unit Front Line could relieve some concerns about the control the merged company could have as a manager and promoter, but requiring the sale could also pull a grenade pin on the whole deal.
Live Nation-Ticketmaster is the first deep antitrust dive for the Obama administration, leading to speculation that how it is decided will provide clues about other deals — including the merger of Comcast’s programming assets with NBC Universal (NYSE: GE). DOJ says the review continues. The department could rule as early as November or take the process into next year.