Minnesota senator and 2020 Democratic president candidate Amy Klobuchar called out live entertainment’s “broken ticketing industry” on Tuesday (Dec. 17), referencing reports the Justice Department is preparing legal action against Live Nation for possible violations of a 2010 consent decree governing its merger with Ticketmaster.
“Americans purchase millions of tickets each year and shouldn’t be forced to pay sky-high prices because of unchecked consolidation in a broken ticketing industry,” Klobuchar wrote in the tweet. “I’ve called for accountability and I’m glad it’s happening.”
Klobuchar has been an outspoken critic of Live Nation's merger with Ticketmaster. Earlier this year, she and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-N.J., called on the Justice Department to open an investigation into the promoter, stating the merger was "bad for consumers" and the consent decree should be extended past its July 2020 expiration date. The five-page letter sent to the DOJ in August suggested that a lack of a consent decree would leave "Live Nation’s dominance virtually unchallenged” in the live entertainment and ticketing space.
On Monday, Billboard reported the DOJ has identified five violations of the consent decree by Live Nation officials that allegedly occurred when Ticketmaster was attempting to renew a promoter or venue's contract. The incidents allegedly involved direct and indirect threats that Live Nation would withhold tours if the clients didn't renew with Ticketmaster. According to the consent decree, Live Nation is not allowed to threaten or retaliate against venues that choose not to use Ticketmaster. Live Nation, however, is legally allowed to route tours to Ticketmaster buildings and it can't be forced to book shows at non-Ticketmaster venues.
The DOJ is also investigating Live Nation’s growing dominance in the secondary market amid complaints from competitors the company is using its place in the primary ticket supply chain to keep inventory off competing sites like StubHub and SeatGeek. The department is also probing a request from Live Nation to buy Rival, a ticketing startup founded by former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard.
Assistant attorney general for the DOJ's antitrust division Makan Delrahim is investigating Live Nation’s compliance with the consent decree and taking a closer look at the five alleged violations, along with complaints from Ticketmaster's attempts to exert greater control over ticket resale markets.
Live Nation stock prices dropped 1% on Tuesday. The company declined to comment on the Senator’s post.