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Ticketmaster's Net Down By 70 Percent In Q2

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. said Thursday its second-quarter net income plunged 70 percent as ticket sales volumes fell and the company booked expenses over its pending merger with concert promoter Live Nation Inc.

Net income in the three months through June 30 dropped to $7 million, or 12 cents per share, from $23 million, or 41 cents per share

Revenue fell 7 percent to $355 million from $382 million.

Excluding $5 million in merger costs, adjusted earnings hit 20 cents per share.

Ticket sales, which accounted for just over half of the company's revenue, fell 18 percent to $312 million.

But most of the drop, or $43 million worth, was because Live Nation launched its own ticketing platform in January, ending its long-term deal with Ticketmaster. Excluding the loss of business, ticket sales revenue fell 7 percent.

The remainder of the revenue, or $43 million, came from artist management company Front Line Management, of which it acquired a controlling interest in October last year.

Chief Executive Irving Azoff said consumers and artists were beginning to embrace the company's paperless ticketing offering and "all-in" pricing, which blends ticket fees into one price, but the tough economy took its toll.

Two of the company's biggest critics, Bruce Springsteen and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, even decided to use Ticketmaster paperless tickets for future concerts, Azoff said.

"I consider it a great triumph," he said.

He also said the company was developing new paperless ticket technology called "paperless exchange." Later this month, Ticketmaster is providing a system for Penn State students to buy and sell paperless tickets for football games using a credit card, with the tickets stored on their student ID.

"I'm really excited about the potential for paperless and paperless exchange and really breaking a lot of new ground out there with this technology," Azoff said.

West Hollywood, Calif.-based Ticketmaster, the world's largest seller of tickets to concerts and shows, ended a long-term partnership with concert promoter Live Nation on Dec. 31.

A month after launching its own ticketing platform, Live Nation agreed to merge with Ticketmaster. The merger has raised concerns that the new company would have a near monopoly over major U.S. concert ticket sales.

The company offered no financial outlook but said ticket sales were flat in July compared to the previous quarter and weaker in August.

Shares were unchanged in after-hours trading following the earnings announcement, after closing earlier Thursday down 10 cents at $9.77.