(This story was updated on Friday, March 12, 2010 at 4:40pm EST to add a comment from StubHub)
With the introduction of the Ticket Act of 2010, two bills are currently in the House Energy and Commerce Committee that aim to regulate the ticketing industry and protect consumers. Yet, the bills take different approaches, and it appears that the two lead sponsors of the two bills may not have consulted with each other before the second bill was initiated.
The fact that two different bills on the same topic land in a congressional subcommittee at the same time is not unique, according to Paul Brubaker, communications director for New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., a Democrat who introduced the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act (BOSS ACT) last summer. And Brubaker was quick to add that the two bills are not in competition with each other.
“The congressman’s [Pascrell] primary focus will continue to be on providing the best protection for consumers in the ticket-selling marketplace through the BOSS ACT. Hopefully, Representatives Matheson and Terry are just as concerned about consumer protection as Representative Pascrell,” Brubaker told TicketNews.
Rep. Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat, and Rep. Lee Terry, a Nebraska Republican who co-sponsored the proposal, introduced the bill this week, and it calls for consumers to be protected from legal action by primary ticket issuers if the consumer tries to resell a ticket. The bill also requires primary or secondary ticket providers to offer full refunds if an event is or ticket is cancelled, or if the seat location has been misrepresented.
In addition, the Matheson bill also supports total ticket transferability, meaning all versions of tickets, whether paper or paperless (digital), must be able to be resold.
Alyson Heyrend, communications director for Rep. Matheson, said the idea for the bill came following discussions with representatives from eBay and its StubHub division. She did not elaborate on the nature of the lobbying effort.
“It is our policy not to comment on our specific lobbying efforts,” Glenn Lehrman, a spokesperson for StubHub, told TicketNews. “I can tell you that we are constantly dialoguing with public policy officials on the fan interests promoted by a vibrant and open secondary marketplace in events tickets.”
Pascrell’s bill is more requires ticket brokers to register with the Federal Trade Commission; requires primary ticket companies release information on the number of tickets available for an event; and has a 48-hour window after tickets initially go on sale before registered brokers can buy and begin reselling tickets to an event.
The bill also has extensive transparency requirements, including primary ticketers disclosing printing and other fees, and secondary ticket companies disclosing the face value of the ticket and its source.
Pascrell’s bill has received 17 co-sponsors, but neither Matheson nor Terry are among them. Both Brubaker and Heyrend said they did not know whether Pascrell or Matheson talked prior to the introduction of the second bill.
Without speaking on the specifics of the two bills, Washington DC-based attorney David Balto, who was involved with the anti-Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger movement, told TicketNews that he is pleased to see congress seemingly taking a serious look at ticketing regulations and consumer protections.
“It’s very important. There needs to be greater transparency in the primary and secondary ticket marketplace,” he said. “In addition, consumer sovereignty is needed when they buy a ticket for an event because they own that ticket and should be able to do what they want with it.”