Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told Newsmax Wednesday that the Federal Trade Commission has to "step up" enforcement and remove "bot" accounts from Ticketmaster and other ticket services.
"I know that some of my colleagues are saying, 'Oh, this is an antitrust issue because you had the merger of live nation and Ticketmaster, but actually, this [has] nothing to do [with that]," Blackburn said during "American Agenda" Wednesday. "It is an algorithmic problem that needs enforcement from the FTC to stop these networks of bots from going in in scooping up all the tickets from so many different types of events that are taking place."
The issue came to national prominence recently when Ticketmaster canceled the sale of tickets to a Taylor Swift tour after a pre-sale devoured the inventory of tickets, television station FOX 17 in Nashville, Tennessee, reported Nov. 17.
According to the report, 1 million tickets were initially sold to "verified" fans and another 2 million were placed on a "waiting list," leaving none to be sold to the general public later in the week, forcing the ticket service to cancel the sale.
Ticketmaster blamed "extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand," the station reported.
Blackburn said that the real cause of the fiasco had less to do with the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation creating a monopoly situation to be dealt with under antitrust laws, but that fake, automated bot accounts were signing in and "scooping" up most of the tickets, allowing those account owners to then get a much higher price for them in secondary markets.
She said that there is already a federal law, the Beter Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016, that authorizes the FTC to go after and shut down scalping operations like this, but the FTC has only commenced one enforcement action since the law took effect.
"What we need [the FTC] to do is to work with Ticketmaster, and Live Nation, and these tour companies, and these vendors that are working with all of our entertainers and our sporting events, and they need to block the bots so that true fans, Taylor Swift's fans, Blake Shelton, Bob Dylan, all who have had Nashville concerts and people that could not buy the tickets even though they were in the preferred group, to get those tickets the minute that [sales] window opens."
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