Two Democratic U.S. Senators are asking the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust division to investigate online ticket markets, which they insist “are not working for American consumers.”
The two specifically targeted Live Nation and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ticketmaster.
Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a letter to Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, who runs the DOJ’s antitrust division, asking him to not only investigate anti-competitive practices in online ticketing but to also potentially extend the consent decree that allowed Live Nation to merge with Ticketmaster pending completion of a probationary period.
The merger occurred in 2010, and under the consent decree Live Nation, which is a major concert promoter, cannot refrain from doing with business with those who do not contract ticketing services from Ticketmaster. Nor can Live Nation retaliate against those who sign with Ticketmaster competitors.
The consent decree is set to expire in July of 2020.
The two senators further criticized the effectiveness of the consent decree. In their letter to the DOJ, they insinuated that Live Nation had “flouted its conditions.” They also said that the deal had left the company’s “dominance virtually unchallenged.”
While the DOJ has never accused Live Nation of any type of wrongdoing in regards to the consent decree, they have reportedly investigated the company in response to a number of complaints that have been made by the company’s competitors.
Unless the DOJ formally charges Live Nation with being in violation of the consent decree, it’s unclear if the decree will be extended.
It’s also unclear at the moment how much weight the letter from the senators will have, as the two are not exactly beloved by the Trump Administration. But many have applauded their efforts. This includes Ticketmaster competitor StubHub as well as NetChoice, which is a trade association that promotes free enterprise on the Internet.
So far, Live Nation has refused to issue a comment in response to the letter.