By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON — A U.S. Senate antitrust panel will hold a hearing on the lack of competition in the ticketing industry following Ticketmaster’s troubles last week in managing sales of Taylor Swift tickets, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the panel, said Tuesday.
Senators Klobuchar and Mike Lee, the top Republican on the committee, did not provide a date for the hearing or a list of witnesses.
“The high rates, disruptions and site cancellations that customers have experienced demonstrate how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company is not under pressure to constantly innovate and improve,” said Klobuchar. “We will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry is hurting both customers and artists.”
Ticketmaster denied any anti-competitive practices in a statement and said it remained under a consent decree with the Justice Department after a merger in 2010, adding that there was no “evidence of systemic consent decree violations.”
“Ticketmaster has a significant share of the primary ticketing services market due to the large gap that exists between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the second best primary ticketing system,” the company said.
Ticketmaster had previously blamed the presale problems for Swift’s Eras tour, the pop superstar’s first tour in five years, on unprecedented demand and an attempt to keep out ticket-scalper bots.
Swift, for her part, said Friday that it was “unbearable” for her to see fans struggling to get tickets and that she was assured that Ticketmaster can handle the high demand.
Klobuchar was one of three lawmakers who argued in a letter Monday that Ticketmaster and owner Live Nation Entertainment, the event ticketing giant behind the recently failed sale of Swift concert tickets, should be split up by the Justice Department if misconduct is found in an ongoing investigation.
The DOJ has proven in recent years to be much more willing to take antitrust lawsuits against giant corporations — including the pending December 2020 lawsuit against Google — and fight mergers.