Two democratic senators are urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate competition in the ticketing sector, following a recent news report in The New York Times that Ticketmaster (TM) and owner Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) are breaching the conditions of approval (consent decree) for the merger of promoter Live Nation and TM in 2010 to form LNE.
In a letter to assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim, senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights; and senator Richard Blumenthal wrote, “The consent decree has been criticized as ineffective, and there have been disturbing reports that Live Nation has flouted its conditions.
“What protection the decree provides will soon come to an end, as it is set to expire in approximately one year, with Live Nation’s dominance virtually unchallenged.
The letter accuses LNE of “retaliating” against venues that use a competing ticketing platform and says, “The losers in all of this are the American people. Without significant market competition, Ticketmaster and other primary ticket providers continue to charge high fees to consumers … we strongly urge you to investigate this market and take any actions necessary to ensure that it serves the public.”
The senators note average booking fees are 27 per cent of the ticket price, according to the Government Accountability Office.
LNE-TM says the senators’ assertion is based on a “fundamental misunderstanding of our consent decree and general ticketing industry dynamics.
“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.”
“Nevertheless, for years now some competitors have found it useful to confuse the issue with misinformation and baseless allegations of consent decree violations. These complaints have been investigated by the DOJ pursuant to its broad powers to monitor compliance with the decree. There is no cause for further investigations or studies.”