WASHINGTON Feb 24 The chief executives of Live
Nation (LYV.N) and Ticketmaster TKTM.O got a skeptical
reception on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, with a leading lawmaker
pressing Ticketmaster to sell a reselling subsidiary.
During the hearing, Sen. Charles Schumer urged Ticketmaster
CEO Irving Azoff to sell TicketsNow, which gave its parent
company a public relations black eye just before the merger was
In that incident, fans of Bruce Springsteen who signed on
to Ticketmaster when concert tickets went on sale were told
that they had sold out within minutes, and were directed to the
reseller which had considerably more expensive tickets.
Schumer seemed skeptical that the problem was caused by a
computer glitch, as Ticketmaster had said, and asked Azoff to
sell the subsidiary.
"Your answers obviously don't satisfy me. Shouldn't
Ticketmaster sell TicketsNow?" he asked during a hearing of the
Senate's antitrust subcommittee.
Azoff declined to reply, saying he didn't have an opinion
on whether the company should be sold.
"Personally, I don't believe there should be a secondary
market at all. Scalping should be illegal," Azoff said. "I
wouldn't have bought it."
Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of
Minnesota expressed concern about the high and rising price of
But Azoff and Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino argued that
music piracy had changed the economics of the industry --
artists no longer toured to sell albums -- and the faltering
U.S. economy worsened matters.
"I can hope that the economy gets better or I can seek a
more proactive approach to protect our employees, reward our
shareholders and better service artists and fans," said
That proactive approach is a merger of the world's largest
concert promoting company with the top U.S. ticket seller, each
of which has made tentative but well-funded forays into the
David Balto, a fellow at the Center for American Progress,
disagreed that the merger would create cost-saving efficiencies
because of the two companies' market power.
"I think it's extremely unlikely that these convenience and
service charges are going to go down," he said. "This is a
competitively unhealthy market."
(Reporting by Diane Bartz, editing by Richard Chang)