U.S. Senate panel to hold Jan. 24 hearing on ticket industry issues

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate committee will hold a hearing on Jan. 24 on the lack of competition in the ticketing industry after Ticketmaster’s problems managing the sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is titled “That’s The Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment.” The committee did not disclose the witnesses.

In November, Ticketmaster canceled a planned ticket sale to the general public for Swift’s “Eras” tour, her first in five years, after more than 3.5 billion requests from fans, bots and scalpers overwhelmed its website.

“The issues within America’s ticketing industry were made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase tickets for Taylor Swift’s new tour, but these problems are not new,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, who heads an antitrust subcommittee.

“We will examine how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industries harms customers and artists alike.”

Klobuchar and two other lawmakers argued in November that Ticketmaster and owner Live Nation Entertainment should be broken up by the Justice Department if any misconduct is found in an ongoing investigation.

Ticketmaster, which antitrust experts contend commands more than 70% market share of primary ticket services for major U.S. concert venues, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment late Tuesday.

In November, the company denied any anti-competitive practices and noted it remained under a consent decree with the Justice Department following its 2010 merger with Live Nation, adding that there was no “evidence of systemic violations of the consent decree.”

Consent decrees are often used to prohibit potentially anticompetitive practices or impose other requirements as a condition of merger approvals.

A previous Ticketmaster dispute with the Justice Department culminated in a December 2019 settlement extending the consent agreement into 2025.

Swift has said previously that her team had been assured by ticket sellers that they could handle a surge in demand and that it was “excruciating” for her to watch mistakes happen with no recourse.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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