Ticketmaster, Live Nation face questions from U.S. senators Facebook Twitter Reddit LinkedIn Email

25 Sep 2018 | Canada
Ticketmaster, Live Nation face questions from U.S. senators Facebook Twitter Reddit LinkedIn Email

Ticketmaster — and its parent company Live Nation — are being called on the carpet by two U.S. senators who are demanding explanations about the company's secret scalper program, exposed last week in a report by CBC News and The Toronto Star.

"The allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention," wrote Sens. Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal in a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino. Moran, a Republican from Kansas, is chair, and Blumenthal, of Connecticut, is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Product Safety.

Read the full letter to Live Nation’s CEO
Concert-goers around the globe reacted with anger after CBC and the Star released hidden camera video from a scalper conference in Las Vegas in July, where Ticketmaster employees were recruiting. The reps told the undercover reporters the company relies on "clients" who resell millions of dollars worth of tickets each year through Ticketmaster and that they turn a blind eye to scalpers using hundreds of Ticketmaster accounts to bypass box-office ticket-buying limits.

"Given our ongoing interest in protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices, we seek clarification on the use of this program," Moran and Blumenthal wrote.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation issued a statement late Monday night saying: "It's clear from the Senators' letter that the CBC's reporting has left the impression that Ticketmaster provides brokers with ticket-buying software, which is categorically false. We look forward to explaining that to the Senators later this week."

The senators, who joined together in 2016 to pass "anti-bot" legislation, gave Rapino an Oct. 5 deadline to explain Ticketmaster's "professional reseller program" and its online resales system TradeDesk, which was designed specifically for professional scalpers, according to a secret Ticketmaster handbook obtained by CBC News.  

Read Ticketmaster's professional reseller handbook
The politicians posed four questions to Rapino, cited here in full:

Describe the event ticket-purchasing limits that Ticketmaster currently employs for sales on its primary ticket sales platform. Additionally, how does the company identify computer programs used to circumvent these purchasing limits?
Do Ticketmaster's ticket-purchasing limits and associated detection practices apply to users of its online program, TradeDesk? If not, please explain.
What are the specific rules and processes of compliance for participating TradeDesk users as it relates to ticket purchasing limits and other relevant consumer protection priorities? Please share any documents and guidance materials that are provided to TradeDesk users.
What role does Ticketmaster's professional reseller handbook play in deterring its resellers from engaging in illegal ticket purchasing activities?
Ticketmaster has declined to answer questions from CBC as to why it has designed an online sales tool to help resell large inventories of tickets or why it was recruiting scalpers to its "professional reseller program" at the Las Vegas conference.

Ticketmaster president Jared Smith, who has declined to be interviewed, late Monday also published a blog post, purportedly to "[set] the record straight," which failed to address those questions.

Read Ticketmaster's blog post
"We are aware that many people don't believe we should be working with ticket brokers at all. But as long as there is a massive disconnect between supply and demand in live event tickets, there is going to be a secondary market. Choosing not to participate would simply push resale back to those who care less than we do about artists and fans. The reality is, engaging brokers with a safer version of tools they could get from many other ticketing companies reduces fraud across the overall ticket market," Smith wrote. cbc