March 5, 2009 By Alfred Branch Jr.
The National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB), angered by recent statements condemning the secondary ticket market made by Ticketmaster Entertainment’s Irving Azoff and Live Nation’s Michael Rapino, will hold a one-day meeting in Dallas, TX later this month to brainstorm over what to do to oppose the two companies’ proposed merger.
The meeting, open to NATB members, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, from 1pm to 4pm CST at the Grand Hyatt DFW adjacent to the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The agenda for the event is still being formulated but among the scheduled speakers will be David Balto, an antitrust lawyer and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, who recently testified before a Senate subcommittee against the deal. Invited guests may also attend the meeting, but they must receive pre-approval from the NATB.
“We’ve come out against the deal, but the meeting is to hear from our 200 constituents whose views we have to carry out,” said Gary Adler, general counsel for the NATB.
Speaking before Senate and House subcommittees last month, both Azoff and Rapino called for the abolishment of the secondary ticket market, and Azoff added that he would consider selling Ticketmaster’s secondary ticketing subsidiary TicketsNow.
Selling TicketsNow, which Ticketmaster bought for $265 million last year, would reverse Ticketmaster Entertainment’s position under the direction of Sean Moriarty, President and CEO of the ticketing arm of Ticketmaster. Moriarty championed the TicketsNow acquisition and staunchly defended it for months as a key driver of the company’s growth strategy in 2009 and beyond.
Judging from Azoff’s disdain for the secondary market, however, TicketsNow’s days may be numbered as part of the Ticketmaster fold.
Regardless of whether the merger receives the go ahead from the U.S. Justice Department, Adler said the signal Ticketmaster and Live Nation are now sending could not be more clear.
“They’ve basically declared war against ticket brokers, and it’s time for them to react,” he said. “Brokers are now in a fight for their lives.”