WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The president of Ticketmaster parent Live Nation, Joe Berchtold, is expected to testify on Tuesday before Congress that “industrial-scale ticket scalping” was to blame for the company’s problems late last year in managing the sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets.
Ticketmaster, which has been unpopular with fans for years, has drawn fresh heat from U.S. lawmakers over how it handled ticket sales for Swift’s “Eras” tour, her first in five years. Experts say that Ticketmaster commands more than 70% market share of primary ticket services for major U.S. concert venues.
Ticketmaster has argued that bots used by scalpers were behind the debacle, and Berchtold is expected to ask for more help in fighting bots that buy tickets for resale, sometimes at astronomical prices.
Other witnesses include SeatGeek Co-Founder Jack Groetzinger as well as Jerry Mickelson, president of JAM Productions, who has been a critic of Ticketmaster.
In November, Ticketmaster canceled a planned ticket sale to the general public for Swift’s tour after more than 3.5 billion requests from fans, bots and scalpers overwhelmed its website.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, who heads the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, has said that the issues that cropped up in November were not new and potentially stemmed from consolidation in the ticketing industry.
Klobuchar and two other lawmakers argued in November that Ticketmaster and owner Live Nation Entertainment should be broken up by the Justice Department if any misconduct is found in an ongoing investigation.
In November, the company denied any anti-competitive practices and noted it remained under a consent decree with the Justice Department following its 2010 merger with Live Nation, adding that there was no “evidence of systemic violations of the consent decree.”
A previous Ticketmaster dispute with the Justice Department culminated in a December 2019 settlement extending the consent agreement into 2025.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz)
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