New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a vocal opponent to the proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, said he is planning to introduce a bill this week that would prohibit all sales of tickets on the secondary market until two days after the tickets initially went on sale to the public.
Schumer’s proposal is said to be a reaction against the way Ticketmaster Entertainment, and its ticket resale subsidiary TicketsNow, handled the sale of Bruce Springsteen tickets, a situation that led to Ticketmaster to settle a complaint about it with New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram. Ticketmaster did not admit any wrongdoing, but acknowledged that there were problems with fans who went to the Ticketmaster Web site seeking tickets only to end up on the TicketsNow site where tickets are resold for more money.
“It’s simply unfair that you either need to be a computer hacker or made of money to go see Bruce Springsteen or U2 or the Mets or the Yankees,” Schumer said during a press conference Sunday, April 5.
But what the proposal does, in essence, is go after ticket brokers, who Schumer believes buy blocks of tickets before consumers can supposedly purchase them. Supposedly, brokers would not be allowed to purchase tickets until two days after they went on sale, but how that would be monitored was not yet explained. However, his proposal would require brokers to register nationally with the Federal Trade Commission to help eliminate fraud.
In addition, the proposal would effectively shut down the speculative sale of tickets, because prelisting tickets for sale would be illegal, a move which Arkansas recently adopted. When he made the announcement, Schumer did not mention anything about the issue of tickets being withheld by artists, promoters and others, which can severely limit the number of tickets initially available for any given show or sporting event.
In a statement to Reuters, Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff, who has criticized the secondary market in recent weeks, said he supported Schumer’s plan. Schumer reportedly ran the proposal by Ticketmaster before making the announcement.
“Ticketmaster recognizes that the ticket resale industry needs far-reaching changes to better protect consumers and ensure fair access to tickets,” Azoff said. Both Azoff and former Ticketmaster head Sean Moriarty have admitted in the past that artists and their representatives often resell their own tickets for a premium before those tickets were ever made available to the public.
In fact, Ticketmaster is taking the unprecedented step of releasing broker information as part of its ongoing dealings with several investigations into its relationship with the secondary market in the U.S. and Canada.