Fan Freedom Project Questions Pro-Ticketmaster Coalition’s Motives

  Fan Freedom Project Questions Pro-Ticketmaster Coalition’s Motives

   Group’s Support of Legislation That Deems Tickets as Licenses Cause for
                                   Concern

Business Wire

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- November 08, 2012

Consumer advocates, property rights activists and live-event fans across
Tennessee who oppose legislation supported by Ticketmaster have raised serious
concerns and questions about the motives of a statewide coalition that is
supporting the ticketing giant in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Sports & Entertainment Industry Coalition (TSEIC) released a
statement on Monday calling on Tennessee lawmakers to pass a
Ticketmaster-supported bill that thousands of Tennesseans, consumer advocates
and property rights activists strongly oppose because of blatant anti-consumer
and antitrust provisions, according to Fan Freedom Project.

If passed, the Fairness in Ticketing Act (HB 3437/SB 3441) would deem tickets
as “revocable licenses” that “may be cancelled at any time, with or without
cause, by the ticket issuer.” The bill would also codify the practice of
restrictive ticketing methods, opening the door for Ticketmaster and sports
teams to force consumers to exclusively use their resale sites to transfer
tickets.

“We agree with the TSEIC that fans deserve protection and transparency to help
them make better purchasing decisions on the resale market, but it’s obvious
that we need comprehensive reform that also addresses the primary ticketing
market,” said Jon Potter, president of Fan Freedom Project. “The TSEIC’s
unwillingness to hold the primary market to the same standards of transparency
that they’re calling for in the secondary market is reason to believe that
they are more concerned with corporate economic self-interests rather than the
fans.”

The high-profile group consists of more than 60 artists, venues and
entertainment organizations, most of which have contracts with Ticketmaster or
its parent company, Live Nation.

The legislation, which was introduced in March, is being reviewed next
Tuesday, Nov. 13, by members of the bill’s study committee. Consumer advocates
and fans are hopeful that Tennessee’s lawmakers will look to other states for
examples of balanced, pro-consumer legislation that aims to solve ticketing
problems. New York, for instance, recently passed legislation requiring ticket
issuers to give consumers the option to purchase traditional, transferable
tickets for events at which restrictive tickets are being sold.

“As we’ve stated all along, we agree with the bill’s supporters that consumers
deserve protection from deceptive ticket practices, and we look forward to
having the opportunity to work with them and the legislature on ensuring that
consumers have a fair shot at buying tickets,” said Elizabeth Owen, former
director of the Tennessee Consumer Affairs Division and current consumer
advocate for Fan Freedom Project. “But this bill is a Trojan horse placed by
Ticketmaster, concert producers and teams to sneak restrictions on fans’
rights into law and monopolize the ticket resale market. To disguise it as
pro-consumer legislation backed by hometown country music stars misstates the
facts and underestimates the intelligence of consumers and legislators in
Tennessee.”

TSEIC claims that this bill is good for consumers; but public statements from
the group about the bill and why they support it are misleading, according to
many. Chris Grimm, communications director for Fan Freedom Project, released
the following analysis in response to claims made by the TSEIC on Monday:

TDEIC MYTH #1: Scalpers routinely purchase some of the best seats the second
they go on sale by using illegal “bot” software for the sole purpose of
reselling tickets to make a profit. In using “bots,” scalpers cut in line
ahead of fans and deprive them of the chance to purchase tickets at face
value.

THE FACTS: As we witnessed in a recent investigative report from Nashville,
venues and artists hold back up to 90 percent of allotted tickets for any
event, and even resell tickets to their own fans at inflated prices; but they
continue to blame bots for instant sellouts. Furthermore, Tennessee already
has a law that prohibits the use of bots; but it is rarely enforced.
Ticketmaster and its partners can easily identify bot offenders for any given
show, as we also witnessed in a separate investigative report from Nashville;
but they choose not to pursue these offenders because they don’t want the
public to know about the appalling number of ticket holdbacks.

TDEIC MYTH #2: Many ticket resellers do not disclose essential information to
consumers, preventing them from making informed purchase decisions. Currently,
resellers do not have to disclose whether they have the tickets in hand, the
face-value ticket price, the location of the seats or that they are a ticket
reseller.

THE FACTS: Fan Freedom Project and other consumer groups support provisions in
the bill that would require more transparency from ticket resellers to help
consumers make informed purchasing decisions. What the Coalition and
Ticketmaster don’t want to address is comprehensive reform that would create
as much transparency in the primary market as it does in the secondary market.
Announcing how many tickets are available to the general public after ticket
holdbacks, for instance, would help consumers make informed purchasing
decisions.

TDEIC MYTH #3: Preserve consumer-friendly ticketing methods by ensuring that
fans have the best shot at the best seats at face-value prices, and preserve
the rights of artists, sports teams and venues to use the ticketing methods
they choose.

THE FACTS: Ticketmaster and its partners use the term “consumer-friendly
ticketing methods” as a euphemism for restrictive paperless tickets – a method
that is anything but fan-friendly. By being able to use restrictive ticketing
methods, Ticketmaster, teams and artists are taking away fans’ rights to do
what they want with their tickets. Ultimately, this is an attempt to eliminate
competition in the secondary market by forcing consumers to buy and sell
unused tickets exclusively on their resale websites, such as ticketsnow.com.

About Fan Freedom Project

Launched in February 2011, the Fan Freedom Project is supported by more than
100,000 live-event fans, including more than 5,000 Tennesseans, and is backed
by leading consumer and business organizations such as the American
Conservative Union, National Consumers League, Consumer Action, the Institute
for Liberty, the League of Fans, the Computer and Communications Industry
Association, and Net Choice.

Contact:

McNeely Pigott & Fox
Matt Griffin, 615-259-4000
mgriffin@mpf.com
or
Fan Freedom Project
Chris Grimm, 202-250-3099
Chris@fanfreedom.org
 
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