Ticketmaster's chief executive sought Thursday to allay antitrust fears over the ticket seller's planned merger with concert promoter Live Nation by revealing that a major venue operator has threatened to cancel its contract if the merger goes through.

The revelation, made before a House subcommittee examining the proposed merger for antitrust concerns, was meant to suggest the combination might somewhat weaken Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc.'s grip on ticket contracts with a majority of top U.S. venues.

Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff said his company received a warning from AEG Live, the owner of 130 venues including the Staples Center in Los Angeles, that it may cancel its contract with Ticketmaster if it merges with Live Nation Entertainment Inc. in an all-stock deal that would value the combined entity around $2.2 billion.

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