Connecticut legislators today, April 25, withdrew a proposed ticket resale bill that would have regulated paperless ticketing in the state for the first time.
The General Assembly’s General Law Committee, which had overwhelmingly approved bill last month, decided to send the bill to the state’s Department of Consumer Protection for review instead of to the assembly floor. The bill will not move forward during the current legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn in early June.
According to state Sen. Paul Doyle, co-chairman of the committee, part of the reason for the withdrawal of the bill was the recent filing of a lawsuit by TicketNetwork against the Bushnell Center and David Fay. TicketNetwork contested statements Fay had made during a public hearing and to the press about the company, and sued for defamation. Doyle said the lawsuit, the first of its kind in his memory, had a “chilling effect” on the bill and made it difficult to gather information from all sides. (See the video below.)
“Our top priority in addressing ticket sales in Connecticut is to do what is in the best interest of the consumer,” Sen. Doyle said in a statement. “We have decided to withdraw the highly contested ticket sales bill for this year in order to gather more information. A lawsuit was filed by one of the concerned parties, and it has had a chilling effect on our ability to gather opinions on all sides of the ticketing issue. We are asking the Department of Consumer Protection to conduct a study on ticket sales and how consumers are currently being impacted. We will take those findings into consideration moving forward.”
The proposed bill, HB6298, was modeled after legislation passed in New York last year, and besides Connecticut, legislatures in Minnesota and North Carolina are also discussing similar bills. The Connecticut proposal aims to protect the resale market for tickets by calling for venues, sports teams, concert promoters and others to provide transferable paperless tickets, or separate transferable tickets if the paperless ones are restricted.
The Bushnell, XL Center and others argued against the proposal, and Doyle reportedly told reporters that music industry representatives told him that Bruce Springsteen and possibly other major artists might bypass touring in the state if the legislation is passed. Jon Landau, Springsteen’s manager, did not reply to a message seeking comment.
TicketNetwork, the newly formed Fan Freedom Project, the National Consumers League and others argued that restrictive paperless tickets are harmful to fans because it limits their options and chokes off the free market, which can lead to higher prices and unfair requirements.
“We are committed to getting this ticket issue right, and to striking a proper balance in the interest of consumers,” state Rep. Joe Taborsak, co-chairman of the General Law Committee, said in a statement. “The input we have received so far on ticket sales has come primarily from venues and ticket brokers, not actual consumers. With the assistance of the new commissioner at [Department of Consumer Protection], we hope to gain this valuable input along with a thorough and objective analysis of how current law affects consumers of tickets in Connecticut.”
TicketNetwork is the parent company of TicketNews.