FTC Announces “Public Workshop” Examining Ticketing in Spring 2019 FTC Announces “Public Workshop” Examining Ticketing in Spring 2019
The Federal Trade Commission is holding a “public workshop” to examine consumer protection and competition issues within the online event ticketing world, announced on... FTC Announces “Public Workshop” Examining Ticketing in Spring 2019

The Federal Trade Commission is holding a “public workshop” to examine consumer protection and competition issues within the online event ticketing world, announced on Thursday. The workshop will take place on March 27, 2019.

“The online event ticket industry has been a frequent topic of consumer and competitor complaints,” the announcement reads. “And FTC staff is seeking public input in advance of the workshop, including possible discussion topics and potential participants.”

Live Nation Entertainment, which has found itself buffeted by a litany of bad headlines in 2018, first in the wake of a report by the New York Times alleging widespread abuses of its market power in the industry, and more recently in the wake of bombshell reports regarding its pricing opacity and resale operations by the CBC and Toronto Star, issued a statement saying it “welcomes and looks forward to participating” in the workshop.

In the wake of its news, the company’s stock (NASDAQ: LYV) took a significant rapid downturn, falling from above $54 to as low as $51 in the immediate aftermath of the announcement before slowly gaining back through the afternoon to $52.69.

The company, which saw Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) call for a government response to “Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s abuse of their monopoly power” this spring and an open letter from Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) a week ago asking for answers on its resale practices, specifically pointed out that the FTC event is an industry wide workshop – “not a probe.”

“We encourage other ticketing companies to take part in educating consumers and lawmakers on the opportunities and challenges in the ticketing industry,” Ticketmaster’s statement continues.

According to the FTC, the workshop will bring together “a variety of stakeholders, including industry representatives, consumer advocates, trade associations, academics and government officials, to discuss problematic practices in the online event ticket marketplace.”

Topics covered will include transparency and lack of ticket availability on the primary marketplace, ticket bots and the BOTS act, resale price disclosures and the listing of tickets for sale not yet in the seller’s possession, and search engine advertisements used by ticketing operations.

The public has been invited to comment on issues in ticketing through December 5 of this year, and can do so via a website set up for the workshop, or via email. A mailing address is also available to send comments (available below, along with both the FTC and Ticketmaster announcements regarding the workshop in full).

FTC Ticketing Workshop Announcement

The staff of the Federal Trade Commission will examine consumer protection and competition issues related to the online event-ticket marketplace at a public workshop on March 27, 2019. The online event ticket industry has been a frequent topic of consumer and competitor complaints, and FTC staff is seeking public input in advance of the workshop, including possible discussion topics and potential participants.

The workshop will feature opening remarks by Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and will bring together a variety of stakeholders, including industry representatives, consumer advocates, trade associations, academics and government officials, to discuss problematic practices in the online event ticket marketplace.

The Commission has a strong interest in protecting consumer confidence in the online marketplace. Issues that frequently arise in connection with online event ticket sales include practices that prevent consumers from obtaining tickets, mislead consumers about price or availability, or mislead consumers about the entity from which they are purchasing. The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently issued a report summarizing these issues. The workshop will discuss the current state of the online event ticket marketplace, shed light on industry-wide advertising and pricing issues, and explore ways to address deception beyond traditional law enforcement.

Topics this workshop will cover include:

Primary market ticketing:

  • Transparency and lack of ticket availability.
  • Ticket bots and the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS Act).

Resale ticket market:

  • Disclosures of pricing, fees, and speculative tickets.
  • Consumer confusion regarding search engine advertisements and websites of resellers versus official primary ticket sellers.

FTC staff invites comments from the public on issues related to the online event ticket marketplace, including possible discussion topics. FTC staff will accept submissions through December 5, 2018, electronically at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/onlineeventticketsworkshop or in written form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, write “Online Event Ticket Workshop” on your comment and on the envelope and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite CC-5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street, SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20024.

FTC staff has set up an email box, [email protected], for suggestions regarding potential workshop participants.

The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be at the Constitution Center, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC, and will be webcast live on the FTC’s website. Registration information, an agenda, directions to the Constitution Center building, and a list of speakers will be available in the near future on the event webpage.

Ticketmaster Statement on FTC Workshop

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Ticketmaster welcomes and looks forward to participating in the FTC workshop on online ticketing in March 2019.  To be clear, this is an industry wide workshop – not a probe.  We encourage other ticketing companies to take part in educating consumers and lawmakers on the opportunities and challenges in the ticketing industry and to join us in further action to improve the consumer ticket buying experience, including aggressive enforcement of the BOTS Act, the elimination of speculative ticket sales and restrictions on deceptive marketing and misleading ticketing URLs.