Is a misleading claim in its opening volley in the quest to shape ticketing law in New York a sign of things to come from Ticketmaster?
The ticketing giant was one of many operators in the industry to meet with legislators and officials of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office last week in the first of a series of discussions aimed at shaping new laws to protect consumers in the Empire State. A letter sent to the Governor’s office, reported on by the New York Daily News, laid out several items on the company’s wish list.
A flat refusal of disclosing actual numbers of tickets on sale to the general public vs. those held back was one major point. An investigation released last year by NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman showed that more than 50% of all tickets (and a much higher percentage of some shows) are held back for industry insiders to distribute as they desire, leading to rapid sellouts when the public gets a shot at the minuscule number of tickets actually available for a hot event. Transparency would be a major blow to the venue and operators, so naturally they would like to avoid it.
The other main priority was killing New York’s ban on paperless ticketing – where venues can require the purchaser of a ticket to use the credit card involved with the purchase to swipe their way into an event.
“New York should lift its antiquated ban on paperless ticketing,” the letter read. “This option, available to entertainers in every state in the country except New York, makes it easier for face-value tickets to get into the hands of real fans.”
Unfortunately for Ticketmaster, that statement is absolutely untrue.
New York does not currently have a ban on paperless ticketing. New York merely requires that ticketing companies give customers the option of receiving a printable or paper ticket rather than the credit card-only system which makes transferring a ticket a burdensome practice for the consumer.
It is also false that New York is the only state which doesn’t allow ticketers to force consumers to use their paperless processes. Virginia passed a law similar to New York’s earlier this year, which went into effect on July 1. Connecticut also passed a prohibition of paperless ticket-only options (with exceptions for smaller venues) this year, which goes into effect on January 1, 2018.
A source at the meeting confirmed for TicketNews that the company was forced to walk back its claim of a “ban” on paperless ticketing when confronted with the facts.
As part of a publicly traded company, Ticketmaster is beholden to its stockholders and has to make every effort to maximize revenue as a matter of course. Given its near-total control of the primary marketplace via exclusive venue contracts in much of North America, its options for continuing growth are scarce in that direction. So, growing into the secondary marketplace is a natural goal – and it appears that the company hopes to clear out existing companies in that space by rewriting the laws that govern who can sell what and how in a way that benefits only them.
By opening its effort to do so with what might generously be called a bending of the truth in New York, it’s clear just how far the company is willing to go to accomplish that goal.