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SC joins lawsuit accusing Ticketmaster of illegally forcing concertgoers to pay more


SC joins lawsuit accusing Ticketmaster of illegally forcing concertgoers to pay more

May 24, 2024 | 7:16 am ET
By Seanna Adcox
SC joins lawsuit accusing Ticketmaster of illegally forcing concertgoers to pay more
Taylor Swift performs onstage for the opening night of “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” at State Farm Stadium on March 17, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona. (Kevin Winter /Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

South Carolina is one of 29 states and the District of Columbia that have signed on to a federal lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment Inc., which owns Ticketmaster, alleging the companies have illegally monopolized the live entertainment industry and forced South Carolinians to pay higher ticket prices.

“Anyone who’s bought tickets to a live event has probably complained about how expensive they were, and we allege that this illegal monopoly has a lot to do with those high prices,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

It’s a bipartisan effort. Wilson is known for signing on or leading GOP pushes challenging the Biden administration. But this time, he’s joining Biden’s DOJ and a mix of Democrat and Republican attorneys general.

Long-standing complaints about Ticketmaster’s practices hit a peak in 2022 when its botched rollout of Taylor Swift tickets led to a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the company’s role in the ticketing industry.

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, Wilson noted that Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, control ticket sales to nearly all of South Carolina’s major venues.

Not only does Ticketmaster control hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales in South Carolina alone, but “multiples of that” in various fees and other costs, the statement read.

The lawsuit alleges that Live Nation:

  • Harms fans through higher fees, while not divulging information on the full cost to see a show
  • Maintained its monopoly by locking up venues through restrictive, long-term, exclusive agreements and threats that venues will lose access to Live Nation-controlled tours if they don’t let Live Nation control ticket sales
  • Leveraged its network of venues to force artists to select Live Nation as its promoter, maintaining its promotions monopoly

The lawsuit asks the court to restore competition in concert tickets by ordering Live Nation to divest Ticketmaster, prohibiting Live Nation from engaging in its anticompetitive practices, and paying a lot of money to the states as a way of compensating fans who were overcharged.

Wilson, specifically, is seeking civil penalties of $5,000 for every violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act, plus damages and attorneys’ fees.

Wilson is joining with attorneys general from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins with the New Hampshire Bulletin contributed to this report.