The Tennessee Sports and Entertainment Industry Coalition, which lobbied for passage of the “Fairness in Ticketing Act (HB1000),” has thrown in the towel for 2013 in one of the 2013 session’s great lobbying wars.
From the Tennessean:
After appearing to flounder recently under the weight of growing opposition from conservative leaders, a proposal to impose greater restrictions on the event ticket resale market died Wednesday in a House committee.
The bill’s author, state Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, said the measure suffered “some of the harshest” lobbying he had experienced, making it impossible to continue.
“They’ve done an excellent job maligning what the bill actually does and that’s just something I haven’t been able to overcome just yet,” Haynes said of the bill’s critics. Opposition has been led since last year by a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy organization, but the army of dissenters swelled in recent weeks to include conservative leaders from throughout the state.
Haynes declined an offer by state Rep. Art Swann, R-Maryville, to send the bill to a summer study committee and said he hoped to present it again next year.
“Around here everybody really knows a summer study committee is a way to dispense with a bill and just never have it dealt with again,” Haynes said. “And I think we do need to deal with this issue.”
Here’s a news release from the coalition’s PR people:
Statement by Teresa Ward, VP Ticket Sales and Services at the Orpheum Theatre, on behalf of the Tennessee Sports & Entertainment Industry Coalition after the Fairness in Ticketing Act was pulled from the House Business and Utilities Committee at the urging of a member of House leadership over concerns that the legislation had gotten too contentious:
“Stub Hub and out of state special interests have spent untold amounts of money and spread numerous untruths in an attempt to defeat common sense ticketing reforms supported by recording artists, venues and sports teams from across the Volunteer State. Despite the scalpers’ lobbying assault, the Fairness in Ticketing Act enjoys broad, bipartisan support in the Tennessee Assembly. Tennessee’s artists, teams and venues will continue to protect fans from ticket scalpers and are committed to seeing this legislation being signed into law.”
Statement by Sean Henry, President and COO, Bridgestone Arena and the Nashville Predators:
“We have made tremendous progress this legislative session. We will continue to educate our customers on deceptive practices working against them and will broaden our opportunities for them to stand up with us in support of the Fairness in Ticketing Act. Thank you to our sponsors for their tireless work on this issue and to the entire General Assembly for their consideration. The Coalition looks forward to working with state leadership on every level between now and next session to solve this problem plaguing our customers, fans, citizens and guests to Tennessee.”
And here’s a sample news release from PR people on the other side:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – By an overwhelming majority, Tennessee voters believe they own the tickets they buy and object to ticket policies that restrict fans’ rights to transfer their event tickets, research released today shows. The survey was conducted by market research firm Zogby on behalf of Fan Freedom, a consumer organization focused on fan rights in the live-event ticket industry.
Among the key findings:
• 84 percent of likely voters believe a ticket they bought is their personal property;
• 84 percent said it is their right to transfer tickets they purchase to anyone they choose; and
• 75 percent said it is their right to choose who uses a ticket, whether a ticket is resold and at what price it can be resold.
“When you buy a ticket, you own it. Period. The survey documents show that’s exactly how Tennessee fans view their tickets,” said Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet. “Unfortunately, the ‘Fairness in Ticketing Act’ under consideration by the Tennessee legislature takes away this right.”
The survey explores likely voters’ views on the live-event ticket industry, including restricted ticketing practices increasingly used in Tennessee. The survey covered topics such as ticket ownership, the use of restricted tickets and fans’ right to sell tickets on the secondary market at market value.
This legislative session, music and sports fans testified against the Fairness in Ticketing Act, and fans plan to attend this week’s hearing before the Tennessee House Business and Utilities Committee to make their beliefs known.
“If I’m not able to make a game or show, I should be able to give my tickets to friends and family or resell them in whatever fashion I choose, with no strings attached,” said John Heacock, a Nashville lawyer, frequent concert-goer, and Titans season-ticket holder. “The Fairness in Ticketing Act gives ticket sellers and venues the power to tell me that I can’t resell my ticket or that I can resell it only on the website they want me to use and at the price that they set. That is just plain wrong.”