report from New York times Last week, it said the Justice Department had opened an antitrust investigation of the entertainment giant.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Edward Markey (D-MA) have called for congressional hearings on the company. “If the investigation reveals that Live Nation continued to abuse its dominant market position despite two prior approval decrees, we urge the department to consider resolving the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and spin-off of the company,” wrote in a letter to the Ministry of Justice.
Klobuchar, who also serves as chair of the Senate Antitrust Committee, said the hearing will take place this year, though she brought forward a date. The DOJ investigation, which is said to pre-date the failed sale, comes after hundreds of thousands of fans were unable to purchase pre-sale tickets for Taylor Swift. The next “Eras” tour.
Ticketmaster canceled general ticket sales after the chaotic event as Taylor Swift weighed in on the situation – claiming that watching the bugs happen was “painful.”
“I’m not totally surprised,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein told Yahoo Finance in an interview.
Stein who joined Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Scrimetti In announcing his own investigation last week, he said his ultimate goal is to make sure Ticketmaster doesn’t use its monopoly power in a way that harms American consumers.
“The biggest problem is making sure that our free market system works the way it’s supposed to work, and a key component is free competition,” Stein explained. “Competition is what drives prices down, enhances customer experience and improves quality. What clearly happened earlier this week is the collapse and quality of service that Ticketmaster provides.”
Shares of Live Nation are at their lowest since February 2021 in the wake of Swift’s canceled sale and initial public outcry.
Antitrust case against Slam Dunk
“This is an antitrust case by slam dunk under current antitrust law,” Carl Szabo, professor of Internet law at George Mason University’s Scalea School of Law, told Yahoo Finance.
“Ticketmaster accounts for over 80% of base ticket market sales, so eight out of every 10 tickets sold today go through Ticketmaster,” he explained.
“By having control of venues and artists simultaneously, this has created what’s called a vertical monopoly where they control the entire infrastructure down to the nuts,” said Szabo.
Other antitrust violations include Ticketmaster’s market power (the Supreme Court defines market power as anything over 75% market share), abuse of market power (i.e. forcing artists to use the Ticketmaster platform), and consumer harm (i.e. diminished quality, and higher fees), from Szabo’s point of view.
“This is a case of monopoly. This is a slam dunk case for antitrust law violations, and it’s being done by one of the most hated companies on the planet,” Szabo said, adding that possible solutions don’t just include spin-offs. between Ticketmaster and Live Nation, but also more transparency on how many tickets are available to the general public versus favored groups.
Josh Katz, Founder and CEO of Web3 Marketplace and NFT ticketing company yellow heartagreed that Ticketmaster’s operations make competition “very, very tough”.
“It becomes very, very difficult for other people to compete once Ticketmaster and Live Nation work in unison,” Katz said, noting that venues should not be allowed to enter into exclusive contracts to sell tickets.
Katz continued, “No one should be forced to use Ticketmaster just because the venue is owned by Live Nation and then the tour is sponsored by Live Nation, which is also the bank and promoter.”
Szabo noted that artists are as much victims as fans.
“Live Nation and Ticketmaster each control dozens of venues. It’s hard for artists to stand up and call them out for fear of repercussions, being blacklisted, or blacklisted,” Szabo said.
“That’s part of the problem — it’s hard for artists to stand out against the monopoly that is Ticketmaster.”
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