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US senators wade into Ticketmaster scandal

US senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal (pictured) have called on Live Nation president and chief executive, Michael Rapino, to dedicate “immediate attention” to the escalating scandal surrounding Ticketmaster’s alleged connection to ticket scalping activities.

Moran and Blumenthal, who recently helped pass the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016, issued a letter to Rapino calling for responses to four specific questions on the matter by October 5.

Live Nation is Ticketmaster’s parent company and the scandal first emerged last week following an investigation by Canadian news outlets CBC and the Toronto Star.

In the letter, Moran and Blumenthal wrote: “CBC News reported on September 19th that Ticketmaster, the live-event ticket sales and distribution subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment, recruits and employs professional ticket scalpers to circumvent the ticket purchasing limits on its own primary ticket sales platform in an effort to expand its ticket resale division.

“According to the article, Ticketmaster utilises a professional reseller program called TradeDesk, which provides a web-based inventory for scalpers to effectively purchase large quantities of tickets from Ticketmaster’s primary ticket sales website and resell these tickets for higher prices on its own resale platform.

“Citing examples of TradeDesk users moving up to several million tickets per year, the allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention. Given our ongoing interest in protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices, we seek clarification on the use of this program.”

Ticketmaster president Jared Smith this week admitted “there’s clearly some things that we’re not doing well enough” amid the scandal. Ticketmaster employees were filmed by CBC News and the Toronto Star claiming that the company “turns a blind eye” to those who have multiple accounts on the company’s inventory management platform and were securing dozens and even hundreds of tickets at a time.

The company has already said it is conducting an internal investigation, but denied the claims of the employees were accurate.

The senators have asked Rapino to describe the event ticket purchasing limits that Ticketmaster currently employs for sales on its primary ticket sales platform, along with the means by which it identifies computer programs used to circumvent these purchasing limits.

The Live Nation chief has also been questioned as to how Ticketmaster’s ticket purchasing limits and associated detection practices apply to users of TradeDesk, along with compliance procedures in place for these users.

Finally, Live Nation has been asked to outline the role Ticketmaster’s Professional Reseller Handbook plays in deterring its resellers from engaging in illegal ticket purchasing activities.

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