Clear Channel Must Face The Music As Judge Certifies Class Action For Concert-Goers
Yesterday, a United States District Court judge gave the green light to a class-action lawsuit claiming Clear Channel Communications Inc. -- the nation's largest media and entertainment company -- used its market dominance to illegally inflate ticket prices to live rock concerts across the country.
The opinion issued by Judge Stephen V. Wilson grants class-action status to five lawsuits on behalf of concert-goers in regions across the United States which are being lead by the Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro (HBSS). The suits claim that Clear Channel used its market dominance in anticompetitive activities that unfairly increased ticket prices for consumers and coerced artists to use Clear Channel for concert promotion.
"Clear Channel is a multi-billion dollar international media conglomerate and we intend to argue that it is leveraging its size and industry clout to exploit consumers and artists by eliminating the choices available to them and keeping ticket prices and concert promotion rates unreasonably high," said HBSS attorney Beth Fegan.
Plaintiffs claim that Clear Channel uses predatory practices to keep potential competitors from entering regional markets. In some cases, the complaints state, Clear Channel bids up the fees paid to artists so it becomes impossible for other promoters to compete.
Such was the case when Clear Channel purchased the entire Backstreet Boys 2001 national tour for $100 million, according to a 2002 New York Times article. The article explains that Clear Channel set extremely high ticket prices to recoup the promotion costs it spent in competing with other local promoters. As a result, those who attended the Backstreet Boys concert paid far more than those who attended concerts promoted by another company in the area, the article said.
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