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Bill Pushed by Ticket Sellers Targets Ticket Resellers

With the new legislative session just getting under way, Tennessee is set to serve as one front in a political proxy-war between ticket-sales giant Ticketmaster and StubHub, the most prominent site for ticket reselling on the web, reports Steven Hale. The article uses an upcoming Nashville concert by the band One Direction to illustrate the state of ticketing affairs.
Both have started nonprofit organizations dedicated to fighting over the regulation of the secondary market, in state legislatures in Florida, New York and Massachusetts, among others. As their names suggest, both sides claim to be primarily concerned with what’s best for the fans — from StubHub comes the Fan Freedom Project, and from Ticketmaster, the Fans First Coalition.
Often, StubHub, by way of the Fan Freedom Project, has been on the offensive. In Florida and New York, for instance, they have supported legislation prohibiting ticket vendors from putting restrictions on the resale of tickets, such as using paperless tickets exclusively, and making tickets non-transferrable. They also supported a Massachusetts bill that would have done the same, and also required venues to disclose the total number of tickets issued, and the number that will actually be available to the general public.
But in Tennessee, things are headed in the other direction. The Tennessee Sports and Entertainment Industry Coalition, a 74-member group, is pushing the Fairness in Ticketing Act (SB609), a bill they claim would address many common ticket resale tactics that aren’t aboveboard.
The high-powered TSEIC member list includes management agencies and artists from The Black Keys to Eric Church and Jason Aldean; venues such as Ryman Auditorium and the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis; and the state’s three major professional sports teams, the Predators, the Titans and the Memphis Grizzlies, along with their associated venues. Many among the group are Ticketmaster partners, though some are not. The Fans First Coalition, and Ticketmaster, support the legislation but have been less overtly involved in pushing it than the Fan Freedom Project has been in opposing it.
The legislation aims to distinguish between the fan who attempts to offload a ticket due to unforeseen circumstances, and the hardcore scalper. It would require ticket brokers — defined as anyone who resells more than 60 tickets in a year — to register with the state. Registration would be used to make sure such brokers pay sales and use tax on transactions, but also to require that they disclose certain information about the tickets they’re selling, such as the face value and exact location of the ticket, and whether the seller actually has the ticket in their possession.
…Coalition members said they believe requiring increased disclosure by the reseller would cut down on deceptive practices run amok in the secondary market.
One such tactic is speculative sales, like those being offered on the One Direction tickets. The uninitiated buyer wouldn’t know it from browsing the ticket options on StubHub, TicketsNow, or AllGoodSeats, but the sellers do not possess the tickets they’re selling. Since they haven’t yet gone on sale — either to exclusive fan clubs or the general public — no one does. But for 10 times more than face value, in many cases, an anonymous, and often out-of-state, individual will sell you a specific section and row. (Bold as the venture is, few are brazen enough to offer a seat number.)
What they’re really selling is a bet, a high-priced wager that they will be able to obtain the ticket you think you bought when the real thing goes on sale.

Ticketmaster Bill Criticized as Anti-Consumer

Press release from Fan Freedom Project:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Legislation supported by Ticketmaster, which already controls with its partners the vast majority of ticket sales in Tennessee, will further tighten its grip on the ticket market, specifically the resale market, while stripping ticket-buyers of their property rights.
The latest measures go so far as to declare that ticket issuers can take away consumers’ tickets “at any time, with or without cause,” and without refunds being provided. Moreover, it empowers Ticketmaster and its partners with control over all that consumers do with tickets they have purchased, including the right to give them to charity, share them with friends or resell them.
Dubbed the “Fairness in Ticketing Act of 2012,” the bill includes several provisions that significantly benefit Ticketmaster, its parent LiveNation and its affiliates TicketsNow and TicketExchange.
(Note: The bill is SB3441/HB3447, according to the PR firm sending the release. The Legislature’s website still shows the measure as only a caption bill without amendments. Its’s sponsored by Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, and Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville.)

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