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Ticketmaster is sued for conspiracy

Bloomberg News / February 10, 2009
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TORONTO - Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc., the biggest ticketing company in the world, is illegally conspiring to monopolize the resale market for sports, concert, and show tickets, lawyers claimed in a suit filed after singer Bruce Springsteen complained about the company's sales practices.

Ticketmaster was sued for redirecting fans, including those trying to buy Springsteen tickets Feb. 2, to TicketsNow.com where the tickets were marked up by hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Ticketmaster gets a 15 percent cut from TicketsNow, which it owns, Paul Kiesel, lawyer for the plaintiff, said in the complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles federal court.

"Ticketmaster profits twice as the result of the monopolistic scheme," Kiesel, of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson LLP, said in the complaint, which seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction to stop the practice. "Defendants have illegally bilked event ticket purchasers out of millions of dollars."

Fan complaints that they were steered to TicketsNow when they tried to buy Springsteen tickets prompted a New Jersey congressman to call for a federal antitrust investigation into Ticketmaster's sales practices. Attorneys general in that state and in Connecticut are looking into the matter.

Springsteen, in a posting on his website, condemned the sales practice. "We perceive this as a pure conflict of interest," Springsteen said. "The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you."

Ticketmaster, of West Hollywood, Calif., issued an apology Feb. 4 for having steered Springsteen fans to TicketsNow and vowed to refund them the price difference between the face value of tickets and those purchased through the reseller.

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