Senators Ask DOJ For Ticketing Investigation; Live Nation Responds

Live Nation Logo 2017
– Live Nation Logo 2017

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-NJ) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an antitrust investigation of competition in the ticketing industry, apparently aimed at Live Nation and Ticketmaster, with the 10-year consent decree allowing the companies’ merger set to expire next year.

As first reported by Billboard, the senators wrote a letter to the DOJ’s antitrust division to look into the business, claiming the current system isn’t working for consumers.

“The consent decree has been criticized as ineffective, and there have been disturbing reports that Live Nation has flouted its conditions,” the letter reads. Among those conditions is that Live Nation is barred from withholding concerts and tours from venues that do not use Ticketmaster or retaliating against venues that work with competitors.

Blumenthal and Klobuchar also ask that the decree be potentially extended past its expiration in July 2020.

Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, emailed a statement to Pollstar that challenged the senators’ letter, saying, “Unfortunately, the Senators’ letter is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of our consent decree and general ticketing industry dynamics.

“Ticketmaster has been successfully growing its client base over the past decade as a result of continuous innovation and providing the best ticketing solution in the industry. During that period, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have always complied with their obligations under the consent decree. We do not force anyone into ticketing agreements by leveraging content, and we do not retaliate against venues that choose other ticketing providers.

“Nevertheless, for years now some competitors have found it useful to confuse the issue with misinformation and baseless allegations of consent decree violations. These complaints have been investigated by the Department of Justice pursuant to its broad powers to monitor compliance with the decree.  There is no cause for further investigations or studies.”

The companies have faced sometimes withering criticism and sometimes legislation efforts on and off since the consent decree was issued and the merger completed in 2010.  

The BOSS Act, essentially a reworking of a bill that has failed to gain passage since its initial submission in 2009, was introduced by Blumenthal and Reps. Bill Pascrell and Frank Pallone in June attempting to bring “transparency” to ticketing. The Better Online Tickets Sales, or BOTS, Act, was signed by President Barack Obama in 2016.