WASHINGTON — The leader of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that oversees competition policy and antitrust issues has asked the Justice Department to look into Ticketmaster over concerns that it harbors monopoly power following a congressional hearing last month.
In a letter Wednesday, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, the subcommittee chair and ranking member, respectively, said, “For too long, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have exercised monopoly power in a competitive way.” harmed by fans and artists alike.”
The letter, addressed to Jonathan Cantor, assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division, calls for further investigation.
The Judiciary Committee held a hearing last month to examine the outsized role of Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation in 2010, in the ticketing industry after last year’s presale debacle to keep thousands of Taylor Swift fans covered for the upcoming tour. Stuck looking for tickets. The hearing included testimony from Live Nation’s president and chief financial officer, Joe Berchtold, as well as antitrust reform advocates and some of the company’s competitors.
“As a preliminary matter, apart from the Live Nation executive, every witness at our hearing testified that Live Nation is harming America’s music industry,” the senators wrote. “We asked Live Nation many questions about the contest during and after the hearing, but it largely failed to answer them.”
He added: “Live Nation’s responses to ‘trust us’. We believe this is grossly inadequate.”
The senators urged Kanter to take action if it determines that Ticketmaster “has distanced itself from competitive pressures at the expense of the industry and fans.”
Berchtold said in the hearing that bot-driven ticket scalping was to blame for Ticketmaster’s pre-sales woes, adding that the company believes the ticketing business “has never been more competitive.”
The bipartisan hearing, targeting Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster, highlighted broader questions about issues of market dominance that often come at a cost to consumers.
In November, Klobuchar wrote to Ticketmaster questioning the company that it would cancel the public sale of tickets for Swift’s upcoming tour after long wait times and disruptions during its pre-sales due to technical issues. Happened. That same month, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department had launched an antitrust investigation into Live Nation.
Klobuchar and Lee wrote to Live Nation on February 2 to follow up on Berchtold’s testimony, pressing her about the statistics and duration of the contract and seeking the company’s cooperation with a third-party audit of the retaliation claims.
In her opening statement at the hearing, Klobuchar said the competition needed to be restored, suggesting Live Nation “has become so powerful that it doesn’t even need to be pressured, it doesn’t need to be threatened, because People just line up.”