The proposed Ticketmaster Live Nation merger should not be approved without conditions to protect competition in the primary and secondary markets for live event ticketing, Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black said in a letter to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney yesterday.
Contrasting the highly competitive markets of e-commerce with the highly consolidated markets for live event ticketing, Black urged the Department of Justice to at a minimum impose conditions on the transaction. He said these conditions are needed to prevent the merged entity from using their ticket monopoly to charge any surcharge they want when someone buys a ticket and to put up roadblocks and add more surcharges if a ticket holder wants to resell their ticket online.
Those selling and buying online in the so-called secondary market have so far not had to pay additional “convenience” fees — but that could end with this merger.
“Much has been written about the impact of such a merger on the price people pay for tickets with no real competitor to encourage Ticketmaster to rein in extra fees. But the situation is even worse than people realize because of the blow to competition for those trying to resell tickets or buy online from individuals or other smaller vendors. The deal appears to make Ticketmaster master of the standards and e-commerce platform online, making it tougher for other ticket sellers to compete — and for consumers to avoid extra fees.”
“This is about ensuring that a ticket monopoly doesn’t choke off e-commerce, which helps consumers get more affordable tickets,” Black said. “You should have the right to do what you want to with tickets.”
“Right now customer A can buy a ticket online from Ticketmaster and pay a convenience fee. If she can’t make the concert and tries to resell the tickets online, she has a variety of sites to choose to list them and customer B can buy tickets without any involvement – or additional fees – from Ticketmaster.”
Black says the rules Ticketmaster is trying to put in place would switch the industry to a restrictive “model that more closely resembles airline ticketing – a dubious value prospect for any consumer familiar with modern air travel.”