U.S. senators urge probe of Live Nation's 'exorbitant fees' for tickets

The logo for Live Nation Entertainment is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar, both active in antitrust, wrote to the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday to urge officials to investigate potential anti-competitive actions by Live Nation (LYV.N), which owns ticketing giant Ticketmaster.

The lawmakers cited the company's previous violation of an agreement with the Justice Department that allowed the controversial merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation in 2010. That was settled with Live Nation agreeing to refrain from retaliating against venues that do not use its Ticketmaster service for every event.

The lawmakers asked the department to assess Live Nation's compliance with the updated consent decree.

"As live events continue to open up, American consumers are confronting skyrocketing ticket prices, opaque terms, and exorbitant fees. Yet live entertainment markets, especially ticket markets, are dominated by one corporation, Live Nation, which cemented its dominance through its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster," they wrote to Jonathan Kanter, head of the Justice Department Antitrust Division.

The letter noted with dismay that Live Nation had an "aggressive acquisition strategy" that included its purchase of Rival, a ticketing startup designed to compete with Ticketmaster.

"We are deeply concerned that the Department’s past enforcement and negotiated remedies in this industry have failed to adequately foster and protect competition in live entertainment and ticketing markets," they wrote.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by David Gregorio

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