By Alfred Branch, Jr.

In a move designed to help clarify the issue for fans and remind them of role of legitimate secondary ticketers, The National Association of Ticket Brokers late Tuesday issued a statement concerning the Hannah Montana ticket controversy and had some strong words against primary ticketing giant Ticketmaster for the company’s role in fanning the situation.

The non-profit trade group which represents ticket brokers wants to make sure the public knows that Ticketmaster, the venues and others were part of the problem in why there was a scarcity of available tickets to the popular concerts, and that brokers were not entirely to blame for the situation.

“During the Hannah Montana tour, many of the tickets were not made available to the general public. For example, the Hannah Montana concert in Kansas City was held at the Sprint Center which has a total capacity of 18,500 seats. Yet, published reports stated that only 11,000 seats were available for the concert, of which a mere 4,000 were sold to the public. The reason for this is that prior to the public sale there was a fan club sale. Additionally, many Hannah Montana seats in the front half of the orchestra for other concerts have been auctioned off by Ticketmaster with some tickets selling for over $800 on Ticketmaster’s secondary market exchange – TicketExchange,” the group said in the statement.

“Demand for the concert has been so high that complaints over a lack of available seats prompted Missouri State Attorney General Jay Nixon to reach a “fair settlement” with Ticketmaster to release an additional 2,000 tickets for the October 23 concert to the general public — to a show which Ticketmaster claimed was sold out,” the group said, adding that Ticketmaster “actively encourages consumers to buy and then sell their tickets on [its] secondary market exchange.”

TicketNetwork CEO Don Vaccaro raised the same point two weeks ago, adding that prices for many of the shows on the tour have dropped. TicketNetwork is the parent company of TicketNews.

“Whenever tickets to premium events sell out too fast or the ticket price is too high, ticket brokers become an easy target of public scorn. Due to misreported facts about recent events such as the Hannah Montana concert tour, the public needs to be made aware of how tickets actually go on sale and how many tickets are actually available for sale. Recent, inaccurate press reports lead the public to believe that brokers control the market for premium events. This is simply not true. You need to look at how many tickets an arena actually holds for a concert or sporting event and how many of these tickets actually went on sale to the general public,” the NATB’s statement continued.

Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to a request for comment concerning the NATB’s statement. NATB President Tom Patania could not be reached for comment.

“Ticket brokers are no different from stock brokers — they buy and sell tickets every day. When the phone rings at a broker’s office, someone is either selling a ticket or wants to buy one. The prices are set by the market and not by the brokers. Most importantly, the media is primarily isolating this to one event, the Hannah Montana tour. Ticket brokers take risks every day when buying and selling tickets. Unbeknownst to most, many times the market goes in the opposite direction. Every day of the week our members are selling tickets below face value for some event,” the group said.

The following are some basic facts the NATB wants consumers to be aware of concerning the Hannah Montana controversy:

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— This type of act [Hannah Montana] could sell out large stadiums and the shows were held in small arenas, driving a fan frenzy marketplace. It’s simple economics — the law of supply and demand — and it applies to every business not just tickets.

— When the law of supply and demand dictates the price of tickets, consumers reselling their tickets on the Internet are a contributing factor for what the market prices are.

— NATB has always advocated that teams, promoters, and facilities/venue service providers accurately disclose how many tickets are sold.

— NATB requires its member brokers to adhere to a strict code of professional ethics and consumer protection, including a comprehensive consumer grievance system. NATB’s Code of Ethics can be found at the NATB website.

— NATB member brokers offer consumers a unique, 200 percent guarantee if purchased tickets are not delivered as promised.