For better or worse, here comes Ticketmaster/Live Nation

Will it survive? That’s the main question looming over today’s official news that Live Nation will indeed buy Tickemaster Entertainment, a deal that has been much in the news this week.

Already, Sen. Charles Schumer, a member of the Judiciary Committee and Democrat from New York, has called for a federal probe into Ticketmaster’s relationship with resale subsidiary TicketsNow (a relationship that was roundly criticized recently when fans tried to buy Bruce Springsteen tickets) and said a merger with Live Nation “must be viewed skeptically).

As the New York Times recently pointed out, the deal will mark “an early test of the Obama administration’s views on concentrated corporate power, particularly in an area with potentially stark implications for consumers.”

“The combination of the two companies would place under one corporate umbrella dominant players in all sides of the live concert business: the sale of tickets, the representation of artists and the control of concert halls. Of particular issue to regulators, say lawyers with expertise in antitrust law, would be Live Nation’s recent entry into the ticket-selling business — essentially a challenge to Ticketmaster on its own turf,” the story noted.

Of course, even if the deal does survive, and even if it gets approval from antitrust regulators, the process could take some time. Months. A year. Maybe more. Such a time lapse could causes problems of its own — the economic landscape can change, strategy can shift, relationships can fray — and you end up, in some ways, far worse than when you began the whole darned thing.

Kellogg drops Phelps after photos

We won’t be tempted by puns. Or any sort of lame wordplay.  We’ll play this straight. Seriously. Here goes: After all the bad publicity caused by a photo of Michael Phelps apparently taking a bong hit, Kellogg has decided to dump the superswimmer.

Okay, now that’s out of the way. Here’s the basics from Reuters:

The world’s largest cereal maker said on Thursday it would not extend a contract with Phelps, who charmed audiences in Beijing last year with a record-breaking, eight-gold medal haul, saying the photo of the swimmer was inconsistent with its public image.

Phelps, estimated to make millions of dollars annually from marketing deals, issued an apology this week after a British newspaper published a photograph purportedly showing him smoking marijuana during a student party at the University of South Carolina in November.

One big, happy, musical family

Hey, Madonna meet Miley Cyrus. Jay-Z, these are the Eagles. You all could be one big happy family. Sort of like the Brady Bunch.  Or the Partridge family!

Only, however, if merger talks talks between Ticketmaster Entertainment and Live Nation result in a deal — and if that deal isn’t blocked by regulators worried about too few power players in the ticket  

Here’s what we reported: A source briefed on the matter told Reuters that talks are at an advanced stage, but could still fall apart over issues such as management control.

AP tries to help grumpy, cash-strapped members

More cracks are appearing in the newspaper industry. Things have become so tough that the Associated Press has agreed to slash $9 million from its membership fees. With newspaper’s reeling from depressed advertising revenue, they are looking to save money wherever they can, and have been clamoring for a break from the AP.

PaidContent’s Staci Kramer talked to AP chief revenue officer Tom Brettigen about the cuts. Here’s what he said about how AP will make up for the drop in income.

“We have a lot to make up. We’ve been working on the revenue side; this undoubtedly is going to require some work on the cost side. For a company where the costs are primarily its people, it’s going to mean having to look at some positions.” AP already has a hiring freeze; now it’s looking at staff cuts. “It’s too early to be specific. It is a peculiar situation where we reduce the costs to the newspapers, which means we may be more than likely to make cost reductions. It will affect the news report as little as we can possibly make it.”

Sumner Redstone: World could end tomorrow!

Step off — CBS and Viacom are not for sale!

That comes courtesy of Sumner Redstone, who should know since he holds a controlling stake in both of the media companies. Here’s what he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview:

Asked whether he would consider selling one of the companies, Mr. Redstone said: “Not a chance. I will not sell Viacom and I will not sell CBS. They’re two great companies.” He added: “We have no intention to sell any more stock and I’m decisive about that.”

Redstone’s interview with the Journal should help clear the air on much recent speculation about the future of Viacom and CBS — both suffering badly in the stock market. In the last month, shares of Viacom have dropped about 30 percent, while CBS shares have fallen a staggering 45 percent.

from DealZone:

Just the ticket

Will Ticketmaster's new duet fend off a hot rival and help it rise above an economic climate that makes pricey concert tickets seem like an extravagance?

The ticketing giant has announced a complex deal to acquire top artist-management agency Front Line, home to artists including Christina Aguilera, the Eagles and Neil Diamond. Front Line honcho Irving Azoff will run the combined company -- raising questions about how Ms. Aguilera's manager will negotiate her ticketing fees with himself.

Ticketmaster already owns a minority stake in Front Line, and will pay $123 million to Warner Music Group for an additional 30 percent stake, as the Wall Street Journal was the first to report.