(This story was updated Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 12:35pm EST to add a comment from Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.)
Two U.S. congressmen have proposed a new bill in the House that would regulate the ticketing industry, a proposal that is separate from Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.’s BOSS ACT that he introduced last year.
With H.R. 4795, the Ticket Act of 2010, Reps. Jim Matheson, a Democrat from Utah, and Lee Terry, a Republican from Nebraska, said this week that they are hoping to protect consumers’ ability to buy and sell tickets, thus preserving an open secondary ticket market.
Highlights of the proposal include provisions that protect consumers’ rights to resell event tickets anyway they choose; protects consumers from legal action by ticket issuers if the consumer tries to resell the ticket through a channel other than that of the ticket issuer; and supports total ticket transferability by prohibiting ticket companies from closing the loop with paperless or other digital tickets where the issuer requires those tickets can only be resold through their system.
The bill is perhaps the strongest and most comprehensive to preserve a competitive secondary ticket market, moving beyond Pascrell’s BOSS ACT, which seeks to protect consumers by limiting the secondary ticket market with provisions like requiring a 48 hour grace period after ticket onsales and before tickets can be resold.
“Consumers are losing the ability to transfer tickets that they purchased in a legal way. The system is being rigged against the individual fan when it comes to the secondary market,” Matheson said in a statement. “My bill addresses that problem.”
Both Matheson’s and Pascrell’s bills are currently in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce awaiting discussion. The fact that there are now two bills concerning ticketing in the same committee could potentially help move along the issue of ticket regulation.
“I am aware of the new legislation by my colleagues, Representatives Matheson and Terry. Clearly, the countless public outcries, as well as my efforts in Congress during the past year, have made more legislators aware of the dysfunction in the ticket-selling industry,” Rep. Pascrell said in a statement. “The Matheson/Terry bill will only increase that awareness and hopefully get more of my colleagues focused on overseeing this multi-billion dollar marketplace.”
Should the Matheson bill be adopted, such initiatives as last year’s Ticketmaster/Miley Cyrus paperless ticketing tour, and the current Garth Brooks residency at the Wynn resort in Las Vegas, both of which prevented ticket resale through various identification and electronic means, may not be allowed in the future.
Alyson Heyrend, spokesperson for Rep. Matheson, could not be reached for comment. Neither Matheson nor Terry were among the initial 50 congressmen to sign Pascrell’s letter the U.S. Department of Justice against the recent Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger, but it is unknown whether they signed it at a later date.
Matheson’s bill also “does not pre-empt State and local ‘scalping’ laws and other prerogatives,” and it leaves enforcement in the hands of the Federal Trade Commission and state attorney generals.
In a statement, Rep. Terry said the issue essentially comes down to fairness and access. “Too many times the average person is shut out of concerts and sporting events because the limitation of tickets available and the lack of a secondary market to access them. For one major company to have the monopoly on ticket sales and resale is unfair to the consumer.”