By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan, on Tuesday said giant companies like Ticketmaster, which faces a tsunami of criticism for problems in selling tickets to a 2023 Taylor Swift tour, can become “too big to care.”
Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit, Khan said it was the Justice Department that approved the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation in 2010 and referenced a report that the department had a probe under way.
“There can be concerns that when firms become (large) they can become too big to care,” she added, saying giant firms may feel no need to invest in innovation because they do not face tough competition.
“There’s been public reporting that the Justice Department continues to look at this and I’m sure it’s top of mind for them, given all the incoming that they’re getting,” she added.
Ticketmaster has drawn fresh heat from U.S. lawmakers over how it handled ticket sales for Swift’s first tour in five years.
On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to Michael Rapino, chief executive of Ticketmaster parent Live Nation, to raise concerns about the chaos in the Taylor Swift ticket sale and to request a briefing for staff on fees, dynamic pricing, ticket availability and transferability and scalping.
There will also be a congressional hearing, likely this month, on the debacle in November when Ticketmaster put tickets on sale for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, and some fans struggled for hours with the ticket sale website.
Last month, U.S. lawmakers pressed the FTC to enforce a 2016 law against ticket scalpers using bots after Ticketmaster blamed the software for troubles selling tickets to Swift’s tour.
Ticketmaster has blamed problems with presale ticketing for the tour on unprecedented demand and an effort to keep out bots run by ticket scalpers.
For her part, Swift has said it was “excruciating” for her to watch fans struggle to secure tickets and that she had been assured that Ticketmaster could handle large demand.
Neither Ticketmaster nor the Justice Department immediately responded to requests for comment.
Khan also said that the FTC was not investigating cryptocurrency firm FTX, whose dramatic collapse sparked fears of contagion and prompted calls for more crypto regulation.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and David Gregorio)