Major festival promoter Live Nation's takeover of the Isle of Wight Festival has been approved by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA). It's understood that current promoter John Giddings (pictured above) will continue to lead the festival.
This follows an investigation by the CMA to see if the takeover would "result in a substantial lessening of competition" within the festival marketplace. Last month the Association of Independent Festivals urged the CMA to widen their investigation to see whether Live Nation's position in the overall live music market might stop rival organisations booking artists (more details here).
As part of its examination, the CMA sought the views of a number of sector experts, including other organisers of live music events and industry bodies, and festival goers. A survey was also sent to several thousand customers of the Isle of Wight festival to gain insight into what drives their choice between different festivals (or other activities, such as going to a concert or on holiday).
The CMA concluded that the evidence "indicates that the Isle of Wight festival and Live Nation's existing festivals were not competing particularly closely for customers, and that after the merger people will continue to be able to choose between festivals owned by Live Nation and a variety of competing festivals."
It went on "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".
eFestivals feels the logic in the line above is flawed. It's not only having different choices about something entirely different that matter, the quality of the alternatives in the same area also matter.
The CMA judgement went on to say that "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."
eFestivals hopes the CMA's faith in fair competition proves true, although it's difficult to see how Live Nation's position cannot be strengthened by being a stronger player in the market.
The full details of the CMA's judgement can be found here.
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