U.S. lawmakers set to probe ticketing industry after millions of Taylor Swift fans were barred from purchasing concert tickets for the Grammy winner’s upcoming “The Eras Tour.”
The senses. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, announced Tuesday a Judiciary subcommittee competition policy, antitrust and consumer rights hearing to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry. Lawmakers said “significant service failures” on Ticketmaster’s website required oversight from antitrust regulators.
Last Tuesday, 14 million fans tried to order presale tickets through the Ticketmaster website. Many fans had to wait in a digital queue for hours to arrive empty-handed. The failure of the service caused widespread public outcry from the Swifties, and some Democratic lawmakers denounced what they saw as a market failure caused by “the consolidation of the live entertainment and ticketing industry. “.
“Last week, the problem of competition in ticketing markets became painfully apparent when Ticketmaster’s website let down hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to buy concert tickets. The high fees, disruptions in the website and the cancellations customers have experienced show how Ticketmaster’s dominant position in the market means the company is under no pressure to continually innovate and improve,” President Klobuchar said in a statement.
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His concerns were echoed by Ranking member Lee, who said, “American consumers deserve to benefit from competition in every market, from grocery chains to music venues.”
“I look forward to exercising the oversight authority of our subcommittee to ensure that anti-competitive mergers and exclusionary behavior do not cripple an entertainment industry already struggling to recover from pandemic shutdowns,” said Lee.
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The hearing announcement follows a letter Klobuchar sent to Ticketmaster last Wednesday raising concerns about the lack of competition in the ticketing industry following the company’s decision. 2010 merger with Live Nation.
“Ticketmaster’s strength in the core ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically drive businesses to innovate and improve their services. This can lead to the kinds of dramatic service failures we’ve seen this week, where consumers are the ones paying the price,” Klobuchar wrote.
Klobuchar and several other Democratic senators wrote separately to the Department of Justice encouraging antitrust law enforcement to investigate Ticketmaster to determine whether the company should be dissolved. They noted that the company controls about 60% of the major concert and event promotion market and accused it of using its dominant market position to raise prices and harm consumers.
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“If the investigation finds that Live Nation has continued to abuse its dominant market position despite two prior consent decrees, we urge the department to consider unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and disbanding the company,” wrote the lawmakers. “This may be the only way to truly protect consumers, artists and venue operators and restore competition to the ticketing market.”
Fox News’ Julia Musto and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.