Senators Call for Federal Investigation Into Ticketmaster

By Miguel Moreno

Senators sent a letter to the Department of Justice on Aug. 27 urging the agency to conduct an investigation into Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster has dominated the ticketing industry since before it merged with the concert promoter Live Nation in 2010 to form Live Nation Entertainment. Now, years after the DOJ approved the request from the two giants to merge, politicians are worried that the company has gone on “virtually unchallenged,” with the lack of competition hurting consumers at the checkout.

When Live Nation was formed, the DOJ required “Ticketmaster to license its primary ticketing software to a competitor, sell off one ticketing unit, and agree to be barred from certain forms of retaliation” against ticketing competitors.

The department also stipulated that Live Nation could promote shows that may or may not use Ticketmaster as its ticketing platform: it could use a competitor.

“This approach was intended to create competition in an industry that had long been dominated by a single player,” read the letter sent by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn). “However, the company retained significant advantages over any would be competitors.”

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In this photo illustration a man uses a credit card to buy something online in Bristol, United Kingdom, on August 11, 2014. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A report from the New York Times cited in the letter detailed accounts where Live Nation, which manages the tours of 500 artists, has allegedly pressured venues to use its subsidiary Ticketmaster.

In another article by the Times, Live Nation responded to the letter: “Live Nation and Ticketmaster have always complied with their obligations under the consent decree.

“We do not force anyone into ticketing agreements by leveraging content, and we do not retaliate against venues that choose other ticketing providers.”

The senators cited an array of reports backing their claim that competition in the ticketing industry has little improved since 2010.

As for consumers, ticketing fees have been sitting at around 25 percent of the ticket price, according to the Government Accountability Office. Ticketmaster held more than 80 percent of market share back in 2008, and it still continues to lead the market today.

“Americans purchase hundreds of millions of tickets every year and have grown sick and tired of the sky-high fees from Ticketmaster,” read the letter. “We strongly urge you to investigate this market and take any actions necessary to ensure that it serves the public.”