An investigation into Ticketmaster’s business practices by Canada’s Competition Bureau has expanded to include a look at its practices specific to resale in the sake of the CBC/Toronto Star reports from late September, the CBC is reporting. The agency sued Live Nation/Ticketmaster earlier in 2018 over its alleged misleading of consumers related to the ticket prices for sports and other events.
In a statement to the CBC, a spokesperson said the agency is “looking into the matter, and examining whether this type of conduct could fall within the Competition Act.”
“We remain focused on advancing our ongoing litigation against Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation to stop them from making alleged deceptive marketing claims when advertising prices for sports and entertainment tickets. The bureau sued the companies and a hearing on a motion brought by the commissioner for further and better records is scheduled for Oct. 11,” the statement said.
Ticketmaster has found itself in the cross hairs of both consumer lawsuits and governmental agencies in the past two weeks following the CBC/Toronto Star investigation. That reporting went into detail on the various ways prices and availability for live events are manipulated on the primary market, looking at a particular Bruno Mars concert in Saskatchewan. It also detailed pro-broker practices in place by the ticketing giant, which operates as a resale marketplace in addition to being the largest primary ticketing provider in the world. By far the largest reaction has come following hidden camera footage which seems to imply that the company turns a blind eye to ticket broker activity that goes against its own policies, so long as the brokers are listing their inventory with TM resale.
Ticketmaster has strongly denied it gives any sort of preferential treatment to ticket brokers in its system, while promising an internal review.
“We are aware that many people don’t believe we should be working with ticket brokers at all. But as long as there is a massive disconnect between supply and demand in live event tickets, there is going to be a secondary market,” wrote Ticketmaster President Jared Smith in a lengthy blog post published last week.
This latest step came about due to the intervention by Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, who contacted the Competition Bureau following the reports.
“I did reach out to the Competition Bureau to really express the concerns I’ve heard from Canadians,” Bains told the CBC. “They will look into the matter, of course. They are an independent agency, they have the resources and tools to do so.”
“Clearly, from our point of view, we want to see that consumers are treated with fairness and with respect and with transparency.”
No formal investigation has been announced in the United States, though U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) wrote a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino requesting answers to questions on the company’s operations.