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Senate antitrust chair: Ticketmaster abused market power in Swift ticket chaos

Amy Klobuchar
Posted at 6:13 PM, Nov 18, 2022

Senator Amy Klobuchar accused Ticketmaster in an open letter of having a harmful impact on its customers following multiple days of problems with the company's e-commerce site as fans tried to buy tickets for shows in Taylor Swift's new tour.

Klobuchar wrote in the letter, “Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services. That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price.”

Around 10 years ago, ticketing and events giants Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged. It was Klobuchar who said that the company had promised to “develop an easy-access, one-stop platform” for selling tickets to events.

Klobuchar said, “When Ticketmaster merged with Live was subject to an antitrust consent decree that prohibited it from abusing its market position.”

She said, “Nonetheless, there have been numerous complaints about your company’s compliance with that decree.”

The letter read, "I have been skeptical of the combination of these companies since you merged in 2011, when the Senate held a hearing into the merger. At that hearing, you appeared as a witness and pledged to “develop an easy-access, one-stop platform that can deliver … tickets.” And you said that you were 'confident this plan will work.' It appears that your confidence was misplaced."

As Reuters reported, the U.S. Department of Justice has opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation Entertainment, Ticketmaster's owner, citing information from a New York Times report.

In 2019, the Times examined if the U.S. government could play a stronger roll in trying to regulate the ticketing industry in the United States.

The Federal Trade Commission, at that time, came together to examine the topic and look at fees added by companies like Ticketmaster and StubHub, Vox reported.

Senators asked the DOJ to investigate competition in the ticketing business, focusing on Live Nation Entertainment.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Sara Fisher Ellison called it a "textbook place...where a regulator could made a big difference."