A revelation that Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff tried in vain to hatch a scheme to acquire six secondary ticket sellers more than a year before taking over the reigns of Ticketmaster has New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. saying Azoff contradicted himself in his Congressional testimony this past winter.
Pascrell, a vocal critic of Ticketmaster’s proposed plan to merge with concert giant Live Nation, said a Wall Street Journal story about the “Project Showtime” initiative, which also reportedly included the clandestine steering of premium Van Halen tickets to brokers for a profit, is further proof that the ticketing industry needs more oversight. Pascrell has proposed legislation called “The BOSS ACT” that would regulate secondary and concert ticketing. The acronym for the bill, H.R. 2669, stands for Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act.
“Once again Ticketmaster has been caught saying one thing in public and another in the boardroom,” Pascrell said in a statement. “In February, the CEO of Ticketmaster, Irving Azoff, stood before two Congressional committees and stated that he’d like to see the secondary market eliminated. Mr. Azoff [pictured on the right during congressional testimony with Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino] assured us that, had he been CEO at the time, Ticketmaster would never have purchased TicketsNow nor would the company have attempted to profit from online scalping.”
He added, “Now we have learned that in 2007, Mr. Azoff courted many of prominent ticket brokers he later vilified, and even colluded with them to push some of the best seats in the house to several prime concerts directly into the hands of scalpers, in exchange for a percentage of their profits. This direct contradiction to what Ticketmaster told members of Congress earlier this year calls into question the motives of Ticketmaster, not only in regards to their position on the secondary market, but for their proposed merger with Live Nation. I would hope that Ticketmaster’s view of the merits of ticket scalping doesn’t solely depend on what their cut of their profits might be that day.”
Ticketmaster did not return a message seeking comment about Azoff’s actions, and Live Nation spokesperson John Vlautin only responded with a terse, “no,” when asked whether that company would comment. Attempts to reach Sen. Charles Schumer’s press secretary Josh Vlasto were also unsuccessful.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Azoff tried to strike deals with the owners of Ace Ticket; Barry’s Tickets; Gold Coast Tickets; Total Tickets; Elite Ticket Service; and Alliance Tickets. Ticketmaster was looking to buy the six brokerages for about $25 million each.
“These revelations are further proof that Congress must quickly pass the BOSS ACT and bring much needed transparency to the ticketing industry,” Pascrell said. “We must continue to shine a light on these anti-consumer and anti-competitive ticketing practices.”
(The image accompanying this story is from Boston.com)