Senate Panel Sets Ticketmaster Hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its promised hearing about competition in the ticketing industry January 24.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT), chairwoman and ranking member respectively of the panel’s subcommittee on competition, antitrust and consumer rights, announced this hearing was forthcoming back in November in the wake of complaints and consternation after Ticketmaster’s much-derided bug- and crash-leaden on-sale for Taylor Swift’s heavily anticipated “The Eras Tour.”

The shambolic Verified Fan presale overwhelmed Ticketmaster’s servers with the company later citing unexpectedly high demand and an intrusion of bots as partially to blame. The Verified Fan system, which relies on codes issued by the company itself, is designed to deter bots.

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“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. For too long, consumers have faced high fees, long waits, and website failures, and Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company faces inadequate pressure to innovate and improve,” Klobuchar said. “At next week’s hearing, we will examine how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industries harms customers and artists alike. Without competition to incentivize better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences.”

Originally, the plan from Klobuchar and Lee was to hold these hearings before the subcommittee; instead, the full committee will hear testimony when the chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), gavels it to order at 10 a.m. Eastern.

“It’s been more than a decade since Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation, and competition in the ticketing and live entertainment industries has only gotten worse.  Too often, consumers are the ones who pay the price for this market failure,” Durbin said in a statement. “I look forward to this hearing to explore what led to this environment, as well as steps we can take to bring competition back to these industries in a way that puts fans and artists first.”

No witnesses have yet been announced for the hearing, officially titled “That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment.” It will able for live-streaming on the Judiciary Committee’s site.