White House Pushes Legislation Targeting ‘The Huge Service Fees That Companies Like Ticketmaster Slap Onto Tickets’

Ticketmaster fined
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Ticketmaster fined
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Photo Credit: Claudio Schwarz

In November, the day after Live Nation reported its “highest quarterly attendance ever,” the White House pledged to crack down on “processing fees on concert tickets.” Now, the president is calling for Congress to pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act.

The president detailed this proposed effort to curb allegedly excessive ticket fees today, in remarks delivered before the Competition Council. In keeping with the aforesaid November pledge, tickets’ processing charges represent one (relatively small) portion of the overarching initiative, which is said to be taking aim at penalties including credit card late fees.

Regarding the details of the Junk Fee Prevention Act itself, the president indicated that the legislation would “ban four of the most frustrating charges Americans face.” Said charges refer to fees for selecting specific seats on flights, hotels’ resort fees, early termination penalties (for cable, internet, and cell services alike), and, of course, ticket fees.

“And fourth, you should lower the huge service fees that companies like Ticketmaster slap onto tickets for concerts or sporting events that can easily add hundreds of bucks to a family’s night out,” the president communicated, mentioning Ticketmaster by name a little over one week after a Senate hearing on competition in the live entertainment sector.

During this hearing, Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold pinned the blame for ticket fees squarely on the shoulders of others.

“We do not decide how many tickets go on sale and when, and we do not set service fees,” Berchtold said in a lengthy opening statement. “Pricing and distribution strategies are determined by the artists and their teams. Service fees, even if they’re called ticketing fees, are retained mainly by the venues. And their portion of the service fee that Ticketmaster retains has been falling steadily over time.”

Of course, the clampdown on ticket fees arrives as Ticketmaster and its Live Nation parent continue to grapple with broader regulatory scrutiny and fan criticism. A substantial portion of this pushback has resulted from the Taylor Swift Eras Tour pre-sale fiasco, though lawmakers and customers had been criticizing the companies (which are likewise facing a Justice Department antitrust investigation) even before the episode.

In any event, organizations including the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB), which says that it’s “comprised of approximately 200 professional ticket resale companies,” reached out to DMN with statements about the federal government’s newly detailed legislative focus on the ticketing sphere.

“We applaud President Biden and his administration for wanting to address certain problems that infect the ticketing ecosystem,” the NATB relayed in part. “This is a terrific signal from the White House just one week after the U.S. Senate provided the world with a front row seat to learn about how uneven, unfair, and rigged the live events system is today. Hopefully this will result in greater transparency and competition in the market so that consumers have more information, options, and freedom when it comes to buying tickets.”