'Fan Freedom' Group Requests Ticket Scalping Investigation

'Fan Freedom' Group Requests Ticket Scalping Investigation

CREATED May 30, 2012

By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The battle over ticket scalping now has one group calling for an investigation into whether consumers are getting ripped off right here in Music City.

Jon Potter, head of the Fan Freedom Project, wrote a letter this week, asking Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper to open a formal probe into those practices.  He cited a NewsChannel 5 investigation that found professional ticket scalpers initially gobbled up most of the best seats at a recent Eric Church concert at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

Potter also copied Davidson County DA Torry Johnson on the request.

"Fan Freedom Project strongly supports citizens' rights to own their own tickets and to resell them if they wish," wrote Potter, whose organization is funded by the StubHub ticketing website.

"But we are also vehemently opposed to behavior that violates Tennessee's anti-bot laws or that otherwise strips fans of their right to a fair chance to buy the best concert seats available for face-value prices at the box office. We believe it is in the best interest of consumers, the entertainment industry and the state of Tennessee to punish those who are violating the law."

Ticketmaster, in a statement released late Wednesday, called the request "disingenuous."

NewsChannel 5 Investigates obtained exclusive access to sales records from that Eric Church concert and discovered that buyers from 41 states initially purchased the tickets, including 495 sold to buyers in California.

Altogether, almost 75 percent of tickets for seats on the floor appeared to have gone to professional scalpers.  Our investigation discovered multiple ticket scalping outfits that managed to purchase well over 100 tickets each.
See full story: Eric Church Show Reveals How Scalpers Really Work

Potter wrote that "it is clear that several dozen prime seats could not have ended up in the hands of a single ticket reseller" unless they were obtained using robotic ticket-grabbing software -- which is illegal in Tennessee -- or through some sort of collusion.

Data provided by Ticketmaster to Church's managers indicate that the show was constantly being pinged by those illegal bots and that extra seats were gobbled up as soon as tickets were made available.

"The fact that Ticketmaster or its partners are allowing these sales without reporting them to prosecutors also seems worthy of an independent investigation," Potter wrote.

But Ticketmaster fired back in its statement to NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

"In a matter of weeks, the Fan Freedom Project -- funded by StubHub -- and others who profit from scalping have gone from aggressively opposing legislation that would combat scalping and protect fans to now calling for investigations looking into problems that they themselves create and contribute to," the statement read.

"This hypocrisy shows the desperation of these groups to avoid discussing the real issues that result in fans losing out to scalpers when they try to purchase tickets."

Ticketmaster is pushing legislation that would continue to allow scalping through its own websites.

The statement says nothing about whether the ticketing giant would support or cooperate with an investigation into the use of those illegal bots to gobble up the tickets.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Attorney General's Office confirmed that they did receive the letter. "It raises serious questions, and we will review to determine the appropriate course of action," she said.

E-mail: pwilliams@newschannel5.com

More stories, documents:
NC5 Investigates: Concert Ticket Secrets

Tell Us What You Think!
On Facebook:
NewsChannel 5 Investigates
NC5_Phil Williams

On Twitter:
@NC5Investigates
@NC5PhilWilliams

Back to NewsChannel 5 Investigates