Ticketmaster Amendment Stalls Scalping Legislation

Ticketmaster Amendment Stalls Scalping Legislation

By Phil Williams. CREATED Mar 5, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The issue over who will control the scalping of concert and sporting tickets was back before state lawmakers Tuesday.

A coalition backed by Ticketmaster pushed an amendment that they portrayed as a compromise, but their opponents charged it's just another power grab by the ticketing giant.

"So essentially you are maintaining the right to still stop someone from reselling unless they have written permission from you. Am I misreading this?" asked state Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville.

Some industry proponents of the legislation did not have an answer, and the bill was deferred for a week.

The public face for the legislation -- dubbed the Fairness in Ticketing Act -- is a coalition that includes artists like Eric Church. They want to outlaw a range of unethical practices by scalpers who sometimes lure customers with tickets they don't really have.

But Ticketmaster drafted an amendment that a Senate committee was first told would do nothing to keep Tennesseans from reselling their own tickets.

It was only at the end of a long hearing that it was revealed that the amendment included language saying you would need permission from the event organizer -- in writing.

"They are using very good words to cover up what they want," said Elizabeth Owen, a longtime consumer advocate who works with the Fan Freedom Project. "They don't want us to own our tickets."

But Fielding Logan, manager for Eric Church and The Black Keys, said that was not his motive.

"We want ticket sellers to say what the face value of the ticket is," Logan added. "We want them to say what the seat location is. We want them to say whether they own that ticket or not that they are reselling."

Ticketmaster's opponents -- which includes resale websites like StubHub -- say they would be willing to go along with some of those kinds of consumer protections.

However, they say Ticketmaster has been unwilling to talk about an agreement -- something that one of the senators once again suggested that they needed to work on.

Phil Williams

Phil Williams

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Phil Williams is chief investigative reporter for NewsChannel 5's nationally award-winning investigative team. His investigations have earned him journalism's highest honors.