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California Should Fight the Ticketmaster Monopoly, Not Embolden It
Opinion
By Opinion
Published 1 month ago on
June 19, 2024

The U.S. Justice Department filed a sweeping antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP File)

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As elected officials representing many of the same diverse and hardworking communities of the Central Valley, we share state Sen. Anna Caballero’s commitment to serving our constituents.

However, we urge her to pull Senate Bill 785, which will grow the Ticketmaster monopoly and make it even less affordable for our constituents to see their favorite teams and artists in person.

Blanca Mendoza-Navarro Portrait

Blanca Mendoza-Navarro

Diego Garza Portrait

Diego Garza

Opinion

SB 785 also stands in stark contrast to the leadership of California’s Attorney General, Rob Bonta, and the U.S. Department of Justice, which have filed a lawsuit taking on Ticketmaster’s monopoly. They are rightfully trying to tackle the anti-competitive behavior that has enriched Ticketmaster at the expense of consumers. The Legislature should do the same.

The Ticketmaster monopoly controls 80% of primary ticket sales in the United States. In the Central Valley, where many families are already struggling to make ends meet, the impact of this monopoly is particularly harsh. Ticket prices have increased by 140% since Ticketmaster merged with the live event promotion company Live Nation in 2010. This trend will only get worse if Sen.  Caballero’s SB 785 passes.

While perhaps well-intentioned by Sen. Caballero, the devil is in the details with SB 785. The bill grants Ticketmaster new powers in state law that will expand the monopoly by enabling the company to manipulate ticketing in ways that benefit their bottom line at the expense of consumers.

Ticketmaster’s ‘False Scarcity’ Scheme

SB 785 does nothing to lower the exorbitant fees that consumers face or increase transparency around ticket availability. Instead, it permits Ticketmaster to impose any terms or restrictions on the sale or resale of tickets they see fit. It does nothing to address Ticketmaster’s practice of manufacturing “false scarcity” by holding back tickets from public sale, only to use dynamic pricing models to increase ticket prices when they are later released, leaving fans with fewer options and higher costs.

Without competitive alternatives, there is no incentive for Ticketmaster to improve the ticket-buying experience or reduce fees. Fans will continue to face bottlenecks, hours-long virtual waiting lines, and websites that crash under the strain of high demand.

We Need Competition, Not Monopolies

Attorney General Bonta said it well when announcing the lawsuit: “Here in California, we’re committed to protecting consumers, holding industry accountable, enforcing antitrust laws, and ensuring a fair and competitive market.”

Our state lawmakers should follow Bonta’s lead and focus on creating competition that protects consumers, not strengthen monopolies. We urge Sen. Caballero and her colleagues in the Legislature to consider the consequences this bill will have on working people across our region. Please stand with the people of the Central Valley instead of Ticketmaster and reject SB 785.

About the Authors

Selma City Councilmember Blanca Mendoza-Navarro can be reached at BlancaN@cityofselma.com. Parlier City Councilmember Diego Garza can be reached at diego.garza@parlier.ca.us. They wrote this for GV Wire.

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GV Wire encourages vigorous debate from people and organizations on local, state, and national issues. Submit your op-ed to bmcewen@gvwire.com for consideration.

 

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