By Bobby Goldman

The Justice Department on Thursday sued Live Nation Entertainment, the concert giant that owns Ticketmaster, asking a court to break up the company over claims it illegally maintained a monopoly in the live entertainment industry.

In the lawsuit, which is joined by 29 states and the District of Columbia, the government accuses Live Nation of dominating the industry by locking venues into exclusive ticketing contracts, pressuring artists to use its services and threatening its rivals with financial retribution.

Those tactics, the government argues, have resulted in higher ticket prices for consumers and have stifled innovation and competition throughout the industry.

“It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster,” Merrick Garland, the attorney general, said in a statement announcing the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit asks the court to order “the divestiture of, at minimum, Ticketmaster,” and to prevent Live Nation from engaging in anticompetitive practices.

The lawsuit is a direct challenge to the business of Live Nation, a colossus of the entertainment industry and a force in the lives of musicians and fans alike. The case, filed 14 years after the government approved Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster, has the potential to transform the multibillion-dollar concert industry.

Live Nation’s scale and reach far exceed those of any competitor, encompassing concert promotion, ticketing, artist management and the operation of hundreds of venues and festivals around the world.

According to the Justice Department, Live Nation controls around 60 percent of concert promotions at major venues around the United States and roughly 80 percent of primary ticketing at major concert venues.

Including Philly’s Wells Fargo Center.

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