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Justice Dept. to investigate Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger

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  • NEW: Justice Dept. to investigate Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger
  • Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Bill Pascrell want Obama admin to oppose merger
  • Ticketmaster and Live Nation Tuesday announced plans to merge
  • Sites have drawn fans', performers' ire in the past
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By Alan Duke
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(CNN) -- The Justice Department has launched an investigation into a proposed merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which two lawmakers said would create a "near monopoly" in concert ticketing.

The announcement came as Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-New Jersey, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder warning that the deal would "consolidate ticket selling, concert promoting, and concert venue ownership under one massive entity."

"The Antitrust Division is committed to vigorous enforcement of the merger antitrust laws and will conduct a thorough investigation of the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation transaction," Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said.

Rep. Pascrell, who last week called for a federal probe of Ticketmaster's practices, said "the deal could put concert-goers nationwide at risk of permanently increased ticket prices and should not gain regulatory approval."

Ticketmaster, long a target of fan and artist criticism, drew singer Bruce Springsteen's ire last week when it routed some of his fans trying to buy tickets to his show in New Jersey to a "secondary site" where they were charged far more than face value.

Tickets on that site -- which Ticketmaster owns -- cost between $200 and $5,000, while face value starts at $54.

Pascrell, who said angry music fans deluged him with calls, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission chairman asking that the FTC look into Ticketmaster's practices.

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Live Nation Inc. and Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. announced plans to merge Tuesday, combining the nation's biggest concert promoter with the largest seller of tickets for live entertainment.

The new company, which will be called Live Nation Entertainment, will have an enterprise value of about $2.5 billion, the companies said in joint press releases.

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