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Ticketmaster facing ticket scalping allegations

Ticketmaster facing ticket scalping allegations

By Jean Henegan

Ticketing giant Ticketmaster is facing new allegations that the company withheld tickets from the recent general on sale for a Nashville, TN Lady Gaga concert, only to list the tickets for sale with significant price mark-ups on secondary ticketing websites.

According to an investigation by Nashville's NewsChannel 5, five tickets for the concert were found for sale at above face value prices on secondary ticketing site StubHub. NewsChannel 5 traced the source of those tickets back to Ticketmaster's parent company Live Nation, with the tickets designated for "Live Nation executives" in internal documents.

In response to the report by NewsChannel 5, Ticketmaster spokesperson Jacqueline Peterson denied that the company was involved in any ticket resale, telling NewsChannel 5 that the "tickets were put on sale to the general public, then purchased by a scalper and put on StubHub."

These most recent allegations of withholding tickets from onsales and reselling them on secondary ticketing sites are hardly the first for Ticketmaster. A separate investigative report by Nashville's NewsChannel 5 uncovered documents that appear to indicate that Ticketmaster cultivates relationships with independent brokers and provides tickets to the brokers for resale at marked up prices.

Among the documents were emails from Live Nation's former CEO Isaac Azoff to ticket broker Chuck Lombardo discussing with Lombardo the benefits of Live Nation and Ticketmaster's merger to Lombardo's business. Ticketmaster has stated that these and other documentation found were evidence of "old business practices."

Also cited in the NewsChannel 5 report was an undercover investigation by a British television crew from earlier in 2012. During the investigation, the undercover reporter was told by a broker that Live Nation has a deal in place with that particular seller so that any profits from resold tickets are split 90/10, with Live Nation taking the lion's share of the split. Ticketmaster did not directly address the evidence presented by NewsChannel 5, but did release a statement to the network stating that "Ticketmaster stands categorically against ticket scalpers."

While Ticketmaster does own three secondary ticketing websites, including TicketsNow.com which has been at the center of several high profile on sale glitches in the past several years, the primary ticketing site continues to publically campaign against so-called ticket scalping. Most recently, Ticketmaster's fight against scalping was demonstrated in the company's support of the Tennessee Fairness in Ticketing Act, which purports to curtail ticket scalping by requiring brokers to register with the state along with creating more stringent laws that would promote greater transparency in the secondary ticketing market.

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