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Senators grill Live Nation, Ticketmaster on Taylor Swift sale fiasco

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(NewsNation) — Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Taylor Swift’s tour ticket tumult was far from a “Love Story.”

Instead, senators from both parties pointed the finger at Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiary, Ticketmaster.

“If you care about the consumer, cap the price,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said. “Cut out the bots. Cut out the middle people. If you really care about the consumer, give the consumer a break.”

Senators skewered the entertainment giant over a debacle in November that left thousands of fans feeling “Bad Blood” when the general public couldn’t get tickets to the pop star’s The Eras Tour.

Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold tried to get “Out of the Woods” by saying the presale was hit with three times the bots it had ever handled. He also said slow-downs and pauses in sales were the result of bots attempting to hack the company’s verified password servers.

“We apologize to the fans,” Berchtold said. “We apologize to Ms. Swift. We need to do better and we will do better.”

Live Nation and TIcketmaster promised in a 2010 consent decree with the Justice Department that they wouldn’t use their market power to stop competition after merging. Several senators and competitors say that’s exactly what happened, however.

“The only way to restore competition in this industry is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation,” said SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger.

Several senators seized the opportunity to cite Swift and her lyrics in the testimony and questioning of Live Nation, which some referenced as the hearing’s “Anti-Hero.”

“May I suggest, respectfully, that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say ‘I’m the problem. It’s me,'” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said. “And the reason is, quite simply, you are the ones that are ultimately responsible.”