US lawmakers are poised to probe the ticket industry after millions of Taylor Swift fans were barred from purchasing concert tickets for the Grammy winner’s upcoming ‘The Eras Tour’.
Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, on Tuesday announced a hearing of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights to examine lack of competition in the ticketing industry . Lawmakers said the “significant service failures” on Ticketmaster’s website required oversight from antitrust regulators.
On Tuesday, 14 million fans tried to order presale tickets through the Ticketmaster website. Many fans have been waiting in a digital queue for hours only to return empty handed. The failure of the service led to widespread public outcry from Swifties, and some Democratic lawmakers denounced what they considered a market failure caused by “consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry”.
“Last week, the problem of competition in the ticket markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website let down hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets. The high fares, site outages, and the cancellations that customers have experienced show how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company faces no pressure to continuously innovate and improve,” chairwoman Klobuchar said in a statement.
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His concerns were echoed by ranking member Lee, who said, “American consumers deserve the competitive edge in every market, from supermarket chains to concert venues.”
“I look forward to exercising our subcommittee’s oversight authority to ensure that anticompetitive mergers and exclusionary behavior are not crippling an entertainment industry already struggling to recover from the pandemic lockdowns,” Lee said.
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The hearing announcement follows a letter Klobuchar sent to Ticketmaster on Wednesday raising concerns about a lack of competition in the ticketing industry following the company’s merger with Live Nation in 2010.
“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically drive companies to innovate and improve their services. This can result in the kinds of dramatic service failures we’ve seen this week, where consumers are the ones who pay the price,” Klobuchar wrote.
Klobuchar and several other Democratic senators separately wrote to the Justice Department encouraging antitrust law enforcement to investigate Ticketmaster to determine if the company should be dissolved. They noted that the company controls about 60% of the market for the promotion of large concerts and events and accused it of using its market dominance to drive up prices and hurt consumers.
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“If the investigation reveals that Live Nation has continued to abuse its market dominance despite two prior consent decrees, we urge the department to consider canceling the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and dissolving the company,” they said. lawmakers wrote. “This may be the only way to truly protect consumers, artists and venue operators and to restore competition in the ticket market.”
Julia Musto and Brie Stimson of Fox News contributed to this report.