Amid continued controversy over the business practices and alleged market dominance of Live Nation’s Ticketmaster, lawmakers have formally introduced legislation (the “Unlock Ticketing Markets Act”) that they say would “help restore competition to live event ticketing.”
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal just recently announced the bill, which arrives about three months after Live Nation president and CFO Joe Berchtold received a bipartisan congressional grilling over the Taylor Swift Eras Tour ticketing fiasco.
Meanwhile, Senator Klobuchar in February urged the Justice Department (which is investigating the 2010 Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger) to take action against the ticketing platform and its promoter parent. Subsequently, it came to light that Live Nation was still leaning heavily into lobbying – and touting seemingly favorable legislation in an attempt to quell the calls for enhanced regulation.
Notwithstanding the latter efforts, the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act would improve competition in the ticketing sphere specifically by authorizing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “to prevent the use of excessively long multi-year exclusive contracts,” according to its authors.
Said contracts “lock out competitors, decrease incentives to innovate new services, and increase costs for fans,” per the senators’ description of the legislation, which wasn’t yet available to view through the congressional database at the time of this writing.
In statements, the lawmakers emphasized the perceived competition drawbacks associated with the operations of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which are scheduled to post their Q1 earnings next Thursday, May 4th.
“Right now, one company is leveraging its power to lock venues into exclusive contracts that last up to ten years, ensuring there is no room for potential competitors to get their foot in the door,” Senator Klobuchar said in part, with Senator Blumenthal bringing attention to “the clear excesses and abuses of Ticketmaster” in remarks of his own.
Worth highlighting in conclusion is that the White House in February urged Congress to pass the “Junk Fee Prevention Act,” claiming that the bill (later introduced by Senator Blumenthal) would address “the huge service fees that companies like Ticketmaster slap onto tickets for concerts or sporting events.”
In brief, the legislation (which extends beyond live events and to airline tickets and more) would afford the FTC the power to make and enforce rules “regarding the disclosure and imposition of mandatory or deceptive fees,” according to its text.
The bill would also authorize state attorneys general to spearhead civil suits against “covered entities” believed to be in violation of these rules, and at least 72 hours before “the first public sale or presale of” passes to live entertainment events, a portion of the same entities would be required to “clearly and conspicuously” identify “the total number of tickets offered for sale.”