The Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee of the California Assembly voted to move a piece of controversial ticketing legislation forward, passing a stripped-down version of SB 785 at a hearing held Wednesday afternoon. The legislation, which would create new regulations focusing exclusively on ticket resale platforms, will be considered next by the Assembly’s Appropriations committee.

While competition and consumer advocates applauded the removal of many of the most egregious measures of the bill, which was built largely following Live Nation’s “Fair Ticketing” template and passed by the state Senate in 2023, they testified that any further passage of consumer protection legislation that could harm competition in the resale ticketing markets should be reconsidered while the antitrust lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice (and joined by California’s Attorney General) is being litigated.

“Live Nation is now the subject of a long-awaited antitrust case,” Diana L. Moss of the Progressive Policy Institute told the committee Wednesday. “But even in the face of this landmark antitrust case, the company continues to deploy all means necessary to protect its monopoly”

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“Bills like SB 785 that interfere with competition could conflict with antitrust enforcement,” she continued. “Regulation of resale in the midst of DOJ case, to which California has signed on, could create a “moving target” in litigation, or even immunize future antitrust actions involving ticketing.”

As originally drafted and passed by the Senate, SB 785 would create a legal framework allowing venues, teams, promoters, and ticket sales platforms to regulate their own competition by granting them the right to use the terms of initial sale to ban ticket transfer or resale on any platform outside of the preferred (primary) vendor. This was broadly similar to a bill vetoed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis last summer.

However, bill author Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced) removed these most problematic portions of the bill after meetings with the office of Attorney General Rob Bonta ahead of Wednesday’s hearing. Those meetings were designed to remove any language that would potentially conflict with the antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation and Ticketmaster that may take years to play out in courts.

What remains is a bill that would still check off a number of the key priorities of the Live Nation and “Fix The Tix” coalition’s wishlists, including a ban on so-called “speculative” tickets, significant new limitations on the use of artist, team or performer names by ticket resale platforms, requirement’s for price disclosure of original “face value” on resale marketplaces that do not exist for primary box offices in the state, and a significant increase in potential penalties for those found in violation of the new regulations.

“I have heard countless stories from consumers who were misled during the purchase of live event tickets,” said California State Senator Caballero in a statement put out prior to the hearing by the National Independent Venue Association – one of the key drivers in Irving Azoff’s Fix The Tix operation. “It is time we modernize California’s ticketing statute in order to protect consumers from anti-consumer practices and price gouging. SB 785 is a consumer protection bill that ends the predatory practices that currently plague the live entertainment ticketing industry by enacting meaningful reforms that place consumers, venues, artists and teams first!”

Representatives of Live Nation Entertainment, professional sports franchises in the state, and other industry-backed groups such as the Music Artists Coalition were on hand Wednesday to throw their weight behind the bill, even in its stripped-down format. Moss and the Consumer Federation of California were the primary opposing witnesses at the hearing, joined by representatives from companies including SeatGeek, StubHub, and Vivid Seats in opposition.

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As the hearing’s section dealing with the bill wound down, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) offered to work with Sen. Caballero on the bill going forward, in hopes of further refining the legislation in a manner that might help consumers without focusing specifically on companies competing with the alleged monopoly as the current bill does. Wicks saw her own legislation aimed at improving competition in ticketing and ticket resale crash and burn earlier this year when Live Nation and its allies successfully lobbied for amendments that would “statuorily enshrined Ticketmaster/LNE’s existing monopoly over ticket distribution, sale and use” according to a letter from that bill’s original supporters at the time of the amendment battle.