Senators intimidate Ticketmaster boss, but offer no quick fix for complaints about the company

American fury against Ticketmaster spilled over to the Capitol on Tuesday, but don’t expect outrage from lawmakers to drive down ticket prices or quell the anger of Taylor Swift fans over failed sales of her new tour.

Long wait times, high prices, and disgruntled performers have swirled around Ticketmaster and the live events industry after the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions prevented people from attending sports games and concerts.

Swift fans and other frustrated event attendees earned an apology from the ticket distributor’s parent company when Live Nation President Joe Berchtold said he was sorry in testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Both Democrats and Republicans take issue with Ticketmaster’s actions, but Democrats seem more insistent on creating new antitrust laws that affect the ticketing industry.

Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, and critics allege the merger empowered the company to dictate high prices while offering poor services to fans and performers alike.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the Democratic leader of the judiciary committee’s antitrust panel, said Tuesday’s hearing was designed to raise public awareness, help federal investigators rumored to be targeting Ticketmaster and lead to new legislation.

“We can do something,” Ms. Klobuchar said at the hearing.

Republicans are angry, too, but they don’t seem convinced that the new legislation is the singular solution. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, the top Republican on the antitrust panel, said Congress should first debate whether the initial federal order governing the Ticketmaster merger was enough.

“The Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger is yet another demonstration that the biggest antitrust problem is not outdated laws or the need for new laws, but the lack of enforcement of the laws we already have,” he said on Twitter.

Senators debated the wisdom of antitrust policy and criticized Berchtold.

Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, said the audience missed the point between Ticketmaster critics advocating antitrust action and others who seemed to say Live Nation was making too much money and wanted a cut.

He urged everyone involved to think about the client he said deserved a break, which could take the form of making tickets non-transferable to prevent scalping, capping fees, or paying artists a fair sum. .

“Not every kid can afford $500 to go see Taylor Swift, and I’d like to see Ms. Swift or Mr. Springsteen or some of the other big artists,” Kennedy said.

Witnesses struggled to answer who is responsible for the high prices. Berchtold sought to deflect blame from Ticketmaster, saying that one band or artist sets the price, while the venue controls the corresponding fees.

“Of approximately 4,000 venues in the United States, according to Pollstar, Live Nation operates approximately 200, which is approximately five percent of the venues in the country,” Mr. Berchtold said.

“Are they the biggest?” intervened the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Richard Durbin, D-Illinois.

“No sir, they are usually not the biggest,” Berchtold replied. “The biggest ones tend to be the sports facilities: the arenas, the stadiums controlled by the sports teams or the owners of the sports teams.”

(function (d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s);
js.id = id;
js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.5”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *