President Biden on Wednesday called for limits to be placed on the fees that can be charged for tickets to live entertainment, eight days after an unusually bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which lawmakers assailed Ticketmaster and raised concerns about the broader ticketing industry.
The president promoted his proposal at a meeting of his competition council, urging Congress to pass what the White House called a “junk fee prevention act” that would crack down on four types of excessive fees, including online ticket fees for concerts and sporting events.
In a statement released before the meeting, the White House said Mr. Biden was specifically asking Congress “to prohibit excessive fees, require the fees to be disclosed in the ticket price and mandate disclosure of any ticket holdbacks that diminish available supply.”
Congress “should lower the huge service fees that companies like Ticketmaster slap onto tickets for concerts or sporting events that can easily add hundreds of bucks to a family’s night out,” Mr. Biden said at the competition council meeting.
“These unfair fees add up,” he said of the fees charged by airlines, hotels, wireless companies and ticketing businesses. “It’s a basic question of fairness.”
Mr. Biden’s call for congressional action comes shortly after senators took turns pillaging Live Nation Entertainment, the concert industry giant that owns Ticketmaster, over the botched sale of tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour and what some lawmakers called the company’s monopolistic hold on ticketing and live events.
The hourslong hearing placed a harsh spotlight on longstanding allegations that the company badgers its competitors to win new business in violation of a Justice Department agreement that set conditions on the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster in 2010.
But the hearing also provided a forum to discuss other ticketing issues, including the opacity of surcharges. Those called to testify — including Joe Berchtold, a Live Nation executive; Jerry Mickelson, a longtime independent concert promoter in Chicago; and Clyde Lawrence, a musician — could not agree on who was responsible for setting the fees and who stood to profit.
Mr. Lawrence insisted that his band got nothing from the fees. He described a show for which a fan spends $30 on the face value of a ticket and $12 in fees; he said about $6 of that purchase goes to the band’s touring expenses and another $6 to band members themselves.
In its statement, the White House said many online ticket sellers impose what it called “massive” service fees at checkout that are not disclosed when buyers are selecting their tickets. A government review of 31 sporting events across five ticket-selling websites found that service charges averaged more than 20 percent of the ticket’s face value, and that processing fees, delivery fees and facility fees sometimes totaled more than half the cost of the ticket itself.
“Significant concentration in the industry — and a lack of consumer options — makes matters worse,” the White House statement said, citing a New York Times report on Live Nation’s partnerships with top arenas.
Mr. Biden’s request for action on ticket fees came in conjunction with similar demands that Congress work to ban fees charged by airlines for family members to sit with young children; exorbitant early termination fees for TV, phone and internet service; and surprise resort and destination fees. Mr. Biden also announced that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had proposed a rule that would slash excessive credit card late fees.