Rep. Bill Pascrell, who helped activation a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “workshop” to analytical alive accident ticketing set for bounce of 2019, has asked the Department of Justice to investigate Ticketmaster in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The letter “highlights Alive Nation/Ticketmaster bazaar malfeasance” according to a absolution issued by the New Jersey democrat’s appointment on Friday afternoon.
“The concentrated bazaar ability of Ticketmaster has fabricated it a behemoth with little allurement to assure consumers in the alive accident industry,” Pascrell writes. “DOJ can, and should, thoroughly investigate and booty able accomplish to abode any and all accord decree violations and anticompetitive practices of Ticketmaster/Live Nation.”
This letter comes on the heels of the FTC branch appear aftermost week, which Pascrell helped activation by way of a letter co-written Frank Pallone, Jr. – a adolescent agent from New Jersey allurement the FTC to analysis Ticketmaster/Live Nation beforehand this summer.
Pascrell has continued been a articulate analyzer of Alive Nation and Ticketmaster. He acerb apprenticed the administering of President Barack Obama to adios the alliance of Alive Nation and Ticketmaster aback in 2010, admonishing that it would “crush antagonism and abuse consumers.” Added recently, he bound a belittling letter to the editor appear by the New York Times in the deathwatch of a abode account allegations of anti-competitive convenance by Alive Nation Entertainment. A ages later, afterward the advertisement of a Government Accountability Appointment abode on the ticketing industry, Pascrell wrote an Op-Ed appear by the Los Angeles Times blue-blooded “Everyone’s Worst Fears About Alive Nation-Ticketmaster Alliance Accept Appear True.”
The added contempo calls for government activity accept appear on the heels of added bad columnist for Alive Nation and Ticketmaster, in the anatomy of a alternation of accessories appear by the CBC and Toronto Star account price-inflation approach stemming from adumbrated absence at primary sale, as able-bodied as pro-broker behavior in the accessory ecosystem that run adjoin the company’s declared rules for admission purchasing limits.
The abounding argument of Pascrell’s letter to Sessions is included below:
The Hon. Jeff SessionsAttorney GeneralU.S. Department of Justice950 Pennsylvania Ave NWWashington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Sessions:
I acclaim the Department of Justice (DOJ) for aperture an analysis into Alive Nation’s anticompetitive behavior and abode to accompany to your absorption new analytic advertisement and added curve of inquiry. The Canadian Broadcasting Channel (CBC) conducted a new analysis that reveals the means in which Ticketmaster appears to coact with admission scalpers to advertise college volumes of tickets on its belvedere — distorting the exchange and harming consumers in the process.
This comes on the heels of an April New York Times abode that Alive Nation may be in abuse of the accord decree it agreed to as allotment of its 2010 alliance with Ticketmaster. According to the New York Times, DOJ is attractive into “possible cases area ancestor Alive Nation Entertainment Inc. pressured venues in Atlanta, Las Vegas, and added cities into application Ticketmaster to advertise tickets to those shows or lose the area business.”
Live Nation owns best venues and has administration affairs with artists. Through Ticketmaster, they affirmation rights to ticketing for these artists’ and venues’ events. This adjustment allows them to accumulation immensely, as admission fees are commonly 27 to 31 percent aloft the abject admission price.
The CBC analysis demonstrates the means in which Ticketmaster additionally withholds tickets during accessible on-sales to absolute availability and ascendancy the accumulation of tickets to drive up prices and alter consumers to the accessory market, area Ticketmaster (Live Nation) can get a added annular of fees on tickets. Alive Nation, in fact, appear its aboriginal $1 billion in anniversary profits from admission reselling aftermost year.
Scalpers are application affected identities to set up assorted accounts with Ticketmaster to buy and advertise tickets. In the CBC investigation, Ticketmaster advisers accepted to not policing these accounts. They’ve accustomed brokers to abide to use counterfeit accounts to army out absolute consumers aggravating to buy tickets to their admired alive events. These scalpers buy up all the tickets to an accident anon aloft them activity on auction to the public, in adjustment to repost them for auction on the accessory market, area they can allegation college prices and college fees.
CBC advertisement appear that Ticketmaster alike has a backstairs apparatus alleged TradeDesk that assists able scalpers in reselling tickets in means that would assume to breach Ticketmaster’s own rules. In the CBC video reporting, a Ticketmaster agent claims that 100 admission resellers were application TradeDesk to advertise a few thousand to several actor tickets per year each. Ticketmaster alike encourages aggregate reselling and knocks allotment credibility off its fees as scalpers advertise added and added tickets.
Online ticketing casework represent an estimated $9 billion market. Ticketmaster is the better ticketing company, captivation added than 80 percent of bazaar allotment in 2008, and still the bazaar baton as of 2017. They additionally authority the second-largest bazaar allotment of accessory admission sales as of 2016. With their hegemonic role in the ticket-selling marketplace, Alive Nation can administer artists and annoyer venues into alone application Ticketmaster for accident ticketing; can coact with scalpers to buy up all the tickets to army out consumers from the primary admission affairs marketplace; and can allegation exorbitant, blurred fees on both the antecedent and accessory auction of the aforementioned tickets.
It is important to agenda that there is no added amount added to the customer by Ticketmaster reselling its own tickets a added time and in so accomplishing accession added fees; these fees are absolutely rent-seeking that clasp consumers and add to Ticketmaster’s profits.
In 2009, afore the merger, Alive Nation’s then-CEO, Irving Azoff, told the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee that he believed “scalping and resale should be illegal.”
When the DOJ accustomed the Alive Nation and Ticketmaster merger, they issued a accord decree, accurate until 2020, that was advised to block monopolistic behavior. A abuse of this accord decree allows the DOJ to abode the cloister to “carry out of analyze this Final Judgement, to adapt any of its provisions, to accomplish compliance, and to abuse violations of its provisions” (Sec. XIV). Furthermore, the accord decree additionally acknowledges that the final judgement can be “modified or vacated” (Sec. XI) by the Cloister should it abort to accede with the accord decree.
Live Nation application its ascendancy over concert tours to burden venues into application with Ticketmaster, as appear by the New York Times, is especially banned by the accord decree, as per Sec. IX(A), which states that “Defendants shall not… Condition or abuse to Condition the Provision of Alive Entertainment Contest to a Area Owner based on that Area Owner abnegation from application with a aggregation added than Defendants for Primary Ticketing Services,” amid added things.
We respectfully appeal added advice apropos the Department’s analysis into Alive Nation. Specifically, are you investigating abeyant violations to the 2010 accord agreement, as mentioned above? If the accord decree has been violated, is the DOJ able to booty added action? Lastly, are you investigating added monopolistic abuses consistent in college prices and anticompetitive bazaar distortions, like admission holdbacks that drive up prices and colluding with scalpers to aggregate college fees from consumers?
The concentrated bazaar ability of Ticketmaster has fabricated it a behemoth with little allurement to assure consumers in the alive accident industry. DOJ can, and should, thoroughly investigate and booty able accomplish to abode any and all accord decree violations and anticompetitive practices of Ticketmaster/Live Nation. Thank you for your alert absorption to this matter.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.Member of Congress
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