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'Fan Protected Paperless Ticketing': Live Nation coins new phrase in fight over paperless tickets

By Alfred Branch Jr.

In an effort to rebrand its restrictive paperless ticketing offering as being consumer friendly, Live Nation has coined a new phrase, "Fan Protected Paperless Ticketing," and the company is continuing its attack on rival StubHub and the secondary ticket market for supporting legislation aimed at regulating paperless tickets.

Live Nation spokesperson Linda Bandov Pazin debuted the new phrase in a response to Reuters about paperless tickets and the growing efforts of the recently launched consumer group Fan Freedom Project (FFP), which is working with representatives of the secondary ticket market to ensure paperless tickets are transferable. The nonprofit FFP received initial funding from StubHub and is working with the National Consumers League (NCL) and the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) on the issue.

"At Live Nation Entertainment we manage over 300 of the greatest artists in the world, and we promote thousands of artists a year. We can only succeed when fans are happy, and that's why we support Fan Protected Paperless Ticketing," Bandov Pazin wrote to Reuters in a statement. "The facts are that fans, artists, teams, venues and promoters love Fan Protected Paperless Ticketing. Satisfaction is off the charts, and almost every fan says they would rather have access to a good ticket if it means giving up the right to scalp or transfer the ticket."

In recent weeks, legislators in Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina and in Congress, have proposed ticket resale bills designed to ensure that consumers continue to have an open marketplace for the transfer or resale of tickets. Live Nation, through its Ticketmaster division, offers a restricted paperless ticketing technology that it believes offers fans protection from the secondary market where tickets are often sold for a premium.

Ticketmaster's paperless technology, however, also makes it difficult, if not impossible, to transfer a ticket, because it ties the purchase to a specific buyer and requires the purchasing credit card to be swiped at the venue to gain entry. Under such a system, some fans have experienced delays in getting into shows, and cash purchases of paperless tickets at the box office are not permitted. The Ticketmaster system differs from one operated by Veritix, which company executives stress allows for easy transfer.

"We're extremely disappointed that StubHub has strayed to side with scalpers to exploit the common fan. Scalpers have never been on the side of consumers and there has not been a single artist that has come out in support of this hoax. StubHub and scalpers are misleading fans because they can't make as much money if tickets are reasonably priced using Fan Protected Paperless Ticketing," Bandov Pazin wrote to Reuters. "So they are desperately lobbying to take tickets out of the hands of kids and soccer Moms and sell them back to them at multiple times face value — because that's how StubHub and scalpers make money. Fan Protected Paperless Ticketing isn't right for all events or all tickets. But it's the way to get a kid a ticket at a reasonable price without a scalper snatching it away from him. We need life long fans. And today the ONLY way to ensure that some fans can get into a popular show at a reasonable price is through Fan Protected Paperless Ticketing."

Bandov Pazin did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about the statement, but another Live Nation spokesperson told TicketNews that the company had no comment. Ticketmaster operates two secondary ticket market Web sites of its own, TicketsNow and Ticketmaster TicketExchange.

"Decades of experience has taught fans that they need protection from Ticketmaster, not by Ticketmaster," Jon Potter, president of FFP, told TicketNews. Potter, who has testified at public hearings in favor of paperless ticketing legislation, believes fans who buy tickets own those tickets, and they should be able to do whatever they want with them, the same as the person who buys a car or other consumer good.

Potter added that while Live Nation decries paperless and resale legislation, the company is doing so while avoiding to acknowledge its own stake in the resale market with TicketsNow and TicketExchange.

"Ticketmaster promotes and enables ticket resale, and charges fees, through TicketsNow and TicketExchange, so I'm perplexed and confused by their strident reaction to fans who might want to resell tickets or give away some of their season tickets to games that they can't attend, for example," Potter said.

John Breyault, spokesperson for NCL, said the new phrase is Live Nation's attempt at "marketing speak" to try to deflect attention away from what the technology does.

"Regardless of what they call it, restricted paperless ticketing doesn't do anything to protect fans, it actually hurts fans who are stuck with tickets that they may not be able to use. This reeks of marketing speak to me, and consumers should be able to see right through it. It's a red herring," Breyault said.

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