Two senior US politicians have called on the competition regulator to take action against ticketing operators flouting consumer rules.
Representatives Frank Pallone, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Bill Pascrell wrote to Joseph Simons, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), highlighting a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which found a myriad of consumer protection and competition issues in the primary and secondary live event ticket markets.
The members, both long-time critics of the ticketing sector, called on the FTC to use its authority to address these problems to protect consumers in the marketplace.
The letter examines issues of unavailable tickets, high prices, exorbitant fees, market concentration, hidden add-ons, and rampant speculation, among other issues.
“The FTC needs to act against deceptive and unfair practices in this industry relating to hidden fees, sale of speculative tickets, and misleading resale sites. The FTC should also investigate reports of anticompetitive conduct in the highly-concentrated ticketing marketplace,” Reps Pascrell and Pallone wrote.
The GAO report, published in April, found that by the time tickets go on sale to the public, only limited seats are available, with as many as 65 per cent presold to fan clubs or other groups and another 16 per cent on average held back by artists and promoters. Primary and secondary ticketing companies also add fees that average 27 and 31 per cent of ticket prices the GAO found.
Pallone and Pascrell are particularly concerned about the dominance asserted by Ticketmaster and Live Nation, and believe restrictions imposed on the pair’s merger in 2010 have not prevented the giant from dominating the sector.
They wrote: “Despite these restrictions, Ticketmaster and Live Nation may be wielding the power they enjoy from the vertical integration of venues, artists, promoters, and ticket services to cripple competitors.
“We encourage the FTC to protect consumers and competition in the event ticket sales market and we appreciate your attention to this matter.”