Arena Issues: Ozzy Osborne-led lawsuit claims AEG freezes out artists.

Arena Issues: Ozzy Osborne-led lawsuit claims AEG freezes out artists. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

A new chapter in the standoff between Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. is taking place in Los Angeles federal court.

Judge Dale Fischer has taken under submission AEG’s motion to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit filed by Ozzy Osbourne, a Live Nation client.

The former Black Sabbath front man sued on behalf of fellow music artists who say AEG unlawfully tied them to the “Staples Center commitment.”

The commitment said that musicians could only play at AEG-owned O2 Arena in London – easily that city’s biggest indoor music arena – if they also performed at the AEG-owned Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

The tying agreement breaks U.S. anti-trust law, Osbourne said, and deters him from playing at the refurbished Forum in Inglewood. The Forum is owned by Madison Square Garden Co., whose ticketing is done through Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster.

AEG’s motion to dismiss denies there’s a Staples Center commitment. Further, AEG argues an injury to Ozzy Osbourne is different from, “Harm to competition in the market as a whole.”

Legally, there might be a better case against AEG if the lawsuit was filed by its direct business competitor, Live Nation, instead of Osborne, said Bill Hochberg an entertainment lawyer at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger.

“But in terms of optics,” Hochberg said. “It’s much better that Ozzy brought it than a big company like Live Nation.”

Los Angeles-based AEG and Beverly Hills-based Live Nation have feuded since at least 2010, when Live Nation completed its purchase of Ticketmaster.

The companies are leaders in multiple aspects of live music and sports entertainment: Venue management, ticketing, and talent management.

AEG owns multiple venues. Live Nation, meanwhile, has Ticketmaster, the primary ticket shop for 80 percent of the U.S. live entertainment market.

KTLA Ownership Unclear

The ownership of KTLA-TV, Los Angeles’s oldest television station, is in limbo because of questions federal regulators are raising.

Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission chairman, stated July 16 that he has serious concerns about Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s purchase of KTLA’s current owner, Chicago-based Tribune Media.

Pai said that he’s worried that Sinclair’s plan to divest itself of some Tribune stations isn’t truly a divestiture because the Hunt

Valley, Maryland-based company would sell those stations to company business associates.

Sinclair’s Tribune purchase would give the company a station in Los Angeles, as well as the New York and Chicago markets, for the first time.

Pai’s words further postpone action on a deal agreed to fourteen months ago. According to FCC spokesman Brian Hart, the agency’s next step in reviewing Sinclair’s acquisition is a vote among its four commissioners on whether to hold an administrative hearing to analyze the deal.

No timetable is set on a vote for an administrative hearing, Hart said, much less a target date for federal approval – or rejection – of the acquisition.

KTLA is currently the fifth-most viewed Los Angeles TV station, based on a Business Journal analysis of Nielsen ratings.

KTLA referred questions about its ownership to Tribune Media.

A Tribune Media spokesman declined comment on whether the deal limbo impacts business at KTLA. The company instead referred to a press statement that it is disappointed by Pai’s announcement, but, “Tribune operations have been strong in 2018.”

Tribune Media’s share price has held at about $33 a share since the merger was announced.

Tribune Media was spun off in 2014 from Tribune Publishing Co., former owner of the Los Angeles Times and other Southern California publications.

Sunny Days for Sumner?

Storm clouds hanging over 94-year-old Sumner Redstone’s fortune might be receding.

U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez mostly dismissed in a July 10 order the last claims brought forth by Manuela Herzer, Redstone’s former girlfriend, who has repeatedly been sued by Redstone’s daughter, Shari Redstone, to deny Herzer a cut of Sumner Redstone’s fortune.

Herzer has argued to no avail that Shari Redstone and Shari Redstone’s son, Tyler Korff, changed how the nonagenarian’s fortune will be divvied up in a way that Sumner Redstone would have objected to if he had been competent to make those objections.

Staff reporter Matthew Blake can be reached at mblake@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 556-8332.

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