Live Nation's takeover of Isle Of Wight Festival given go-ahead

Live Nation's takeover of Isle Of Wight Festival given go-ahead

Live Nation's takeover of the Isle Of Wight Festival has been approved by the Competition And Markets Authority (CMA). 

The CMA sought the views of a number of sector experts, including other organisers of live music events and industry bodies, as well as festival goers, as part of its investigation into whether the deal would result in a "substantial lessening of competition".

Following concerns raised by third parties, the CMA also looked into whether the merger would enable Live Nation to stop rival organisers of live music events from being able to book "the range and quality of artists that they need to provide a competitive proposition".

"However, the evidence indicates that the merger will not materially strengthen Live Nation’s position in booking artists, and that a sufficient range and quality of artists will continue to be available for rival organisers of live music events," it concluded. 

"The evidence collected indicates that the Isle of Wight festival and Live Nation’s existing festivals were not competing particularly closely for customers. After the merger, people will continue to be able to choose between festivals owned by Live Nation and a variety of competing festivals. The fact that festival goers also choose between going to a festival and other activities will also ensure that Live Nation continues to face sufficient competition."

The legendary festival was resurrected in 2002 by Solo Agency's John Giddings, who will continue to lead the event. It has featured the likes of David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney, and was headlined this year by Arcade Fire, Rod Stewart, David Guetta and Run-DMC.

Live Nation has been approached for comment.

Last month, the Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF) published research that showed that Live Nation, the world's biggest promoter, is approaching a 25% market share of all UK festivals over 5,000 capacity. According to the AIF figures, Live Nation currently has a 23% market share by capacity taking into account festivals it owns or majority-owns, including Download, V Festival, Reading & Leeds, Parklife, Creamfields, Lovebox and Wilderness. In total, Live Nation now controls 28 UK festivals, according to AIF.

Isle Of Wight Festival was a member of AIF prior to the Live Nation deal. Commenting on the CMA's decision, AIF general manager Paul Reed said: “Firstly, I want to make it clear that we didn’t start the fire - AIF decided to conduct some research looking into festival market share once the investigation was in motion. We were surprised by the results, with a single transnational entity headed rapidly towards ownership of 25% of festivals in the UK over 5,000 capacity.

"It is disappointing that the CMA has not take the opportunity to broaden the scope of the investigation into Live Nation’s overall position. That said, I think the research AIF published shines a light on the current and future structure of the live music market and the genuine concerns from grassroots independent festival organisers around consolidation and Live Nation’s vertical integration, with tentacles across all aspects of the business. The question is, how many festivals do Live Nation need to acquire before the CMA take this seriously and give the issues the proper scrutiny they deserve?”

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