Goliath Clear Channel Entertainment continues to be the subject of a low-key probe by the US Department of Justice for possible antitrust violations, reports the Rocky Mountain News.
On July 9 Congressman Robert Andrews, D-New Jersey, drafted a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft formally requesting an investigation of Clear Channel.
"Some constituents came to me who are in the (concert) business and said they're concerned that one company is cornering the market," Andrews told the paper. "They're freezing out the competition. I don't know whether they are right or wrong. But my job is to take credible questions that are raised — and these are credible questions — and ask the proper authorities to answer them."
"The entire business knows there's been this ongoing investigation," said Jesse Morreale, co-owner of Denver-based Nobody in Particular Presents concert promotions, which recently filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging anticompetetive practices. "We've had discussions with Justice along with everyone else."
Clear Channel Entertainment spokesperson Rachel Gary said, "Currently, we are not aware of any ongoing investigation."
"At first glance, I think they have a pretty compelling argument," Andrews continued. "It appears if you want to do a national tour, you don't have a lot of choices, given the venues that SFX and Clear Channel control. There are some valid questions whether antitrust laws have been violated."
In Denver alone, Clear Channel is working on a deal with the city to give it first rights to all concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and to build a 5,000-capacity tented pavilion on the grounds of the Pepsi Center, which it has a partnership with, giving it an upper hand in booking shows there. Clear Channel also owns the Fillmore Auditorium.