Top senators urge further DOJ investigation into Ticketmaster

A bipartisan duo of lawmakers, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah.), is asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to advance its investigation into possible anticompetitive behavior by event companies Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

In a letter sent Thursday to Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general for the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, the senators wrote that they were “concerned about the state of competition in America’s ticketing industry,” noting how Live Nation and its widely used subsidiary Ticketmaster have used monopoly power and anti-competitive status to harm fans and artists.

Both senators, who serve as members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, held a hearing on the issue last month after news reports on Ticketmaster’s website in November described significant service outages and delays when fans attempted to book a concert to buy tickets for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour”.

Following the Swift concert ticket fiasco, several fans of the pop star have filed lawsuits against Ticketmaster, alleging, among other things, antitrust violations.

Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino testified under oath and answered questions during last month’s hearing, with Klobuchar and Lee sending a letter to the company seeking answers about the lack of competition in the ticketing and Live -Entertainment industry pushed.

“We recently held a bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at which the President of Live Nation testified under oath, as did other industry participants, including an artist, a secondary market ticketing company, a promoter, and industry experts… First of all, other than the board of directors of Live Nation, every witness at our hearing testified that Live Nation harms the American music industry,” the senators wrote in their letter.

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Lawmakers also wrote in their letter that Live Nation “largely failed” to answer questions they had during and after the meeting, including how many of the top 100 arenas the company offers ticketing services and whether the company would undertake to have “third-party audits to confirm that it will not threaten or actually retaliate against venues choosing other ticketing service providers after the Consent Decree has expired.”

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“Live Nation’s responses boil down to ‘trust us’. We believe that is grossly inadequate,” the senators wrote. “We thank you for your prompt attention to these matters and encourage the Antitrust Division to take action if it finds that Ticketmaster has isolated itself from competitive pressures at the expense of the industry and fans.”

Thursday’s letter comes after the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a warning to Ticketmaster earlier this month after pop/R&B star BeyoncĂ© announced her much-anticipated Renaissance World Tour.

“We are watching @Ticketmaster,” the committee wrote in a tweet in response to the announcement.