A new bill proposing extensive new regulations regarding tickets in the U.S. has been proposed, as a new version of the so-called BOSS Act was announced on Thursday afternoon. U.S. Reps Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) reintroduced the act, which has been submitted in various forms failed to gain passage since its initial submission in 2009. The house legislation is also co-sponsored by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ).
Principally, the act pushes for far greater transparency and consumer rights related to the purchase of event tickets. Its announcement was no doubt timed to follow close behind this week’s FTC Workshop on online ticket sales.
“This essential bill guarantees consumers protection and transparency when purchasing tickets to their favorite live events,” said Sen. Blumenthal in a release announcing the BOSS Act. “Hidden fees and other tactics used widely to gouge fans should not be a part of the concert experience. With the passage of this bill, we can remove the veil around the ticket-buying process, allowing hard-working Americans the opportunity to simply enjoy the show.”
The bill is likely to see a blistering lobby looking to strike down many of its consumer protection benefits dealing with the primary market from venue owners, promoters, and the Live Nation/Ticketmaster giant at the industry’s core. Rep. Pascrell has been an outspoken critic of LN/TM, opposing the Obama administration’s approval of the merger, and calling for it to be broken up as a monopoly in an op-ed last year. More recently, he wrote a letter to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for an “investigation of continued market corruption” by Ticketmaster.
Sen. Blumenthal has also been critical in public comments of Ticketmaster, composing an open letter with Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) to Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino questioning the company’s operations and tactics in the industry following last summer’s bombshell CBC/Toronto Star reporting on the company’s resale practices as well as potentially deceptive holdback and dynamic pricing strategies.
In its current form, the BOSS Act has the following provisions:
BOSS Act Primary Marketplace Provisions
- Requirements for all-in pricing to ensure ticket sellers disclose all ancillary charges before customers select a ticket for purchase.
- Transparency in use of holdbacks.
- Restrictions on preventing reselling or instituting a price floor on tickets.
- Disclosure of refund policies.
BOSS Act Secondary Marketplace Provisions
- Transparency in the sale of speculative tickets.
- Disclosure to purchasers when the secondary seller is the primary ticket seller, venue, team, or artist associated with the event.
- Requirements for all-in pricing to ensure ticket sellers disclose all ancillary charges in price quotes and advertisements before customers select a ticket for purchase.
- Prohibitions on employees of venues, primary ticket sellers, teams, artists, online resale marketplaces, or box offices involved in hosting, promoting, performing in, or selling tickets to knowingly resell tickets at a higher price.
- Restrictions on selling a ticket for the same seat to more than one person at the same time.
“The BOSS Act is the kind of law that will help protect competition in the resale marketplace so that consumers have more than one expensive and overbearing source from which to shop for or resell their tickets. Plus, it promotes transparency which is vital to a consumer-friendly ticket industry and will generally help make the experience less confusing and frustrating for fans,” said Gary Adler, Executive Director and Counsel for the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB).
Statements of support for the act were also provided by officials from the Sports Fans Coalition, the Consumer Federation of America, and the National Consumers League.