Twenty-five years ago, Seinfeld warned us of the dangers of double-dipping. However, double-dipping is not relegated only to hors d’oeuvres and sitcoms. In the real world, Ticketmaster has perfected the double dip, reaping billions of dollars by managing events and selling tickets on the primary market.
For years, Ticketmaster has dipped into the revenues of bands and other acts via its Live Nation Entertainment Group and then dipped into the discretionary income of consumers, charging fees per ticket sale on the primary market.
Now, the company has its sights set on a new challenge: the triple dip. Ticketmaster wants to own the secondary ticket market. Ticketmaster is focused on taking away the freedom to freely give a ticket to a friend, client or family member or the ability for fans to sell tickets they are not going to use to anyone, anywhere at any time. Ticketmaster wants the exclusive right to collect another toll on all secondary ticket sales.
Virginians deserve to have safe and easy ways to buy, sell and give away their sports and concert tickets. Yet, Ticketmaster is focused on requiring fans to purchase “credit card entry” tickets which require fans to present the credit card used to buy the ticket plus a government-issued identification card for the person who bought the ticket.
Ticketmaster’s business plans could force parents to accompany their teenagers to the event gate to show ID of the ticket purchaser, rather than allowing the teen to present the ticket to the usher. Ticketmaster sometimes gives the option to transfer a ticket but it requires a complex interaction with Ticketmaster and may require payment of yet another fee.
We’ve already seen restricted tickets in Virginia. In November, Garth Brooks used restricted tickets for his Richmond concert. Fans who gave their tickets to family or friends still had to escort them to the venue doors. And a ticket-holder who couldn’t attend could not easily sell or even give away his tickets.
Ticketmaster will tell you that these ticket restrictions are designed to protect consumers by inhibiting ticket brokers from scooping up tickets and then selling them far above face value. However, a new federal law, which was supported by Ticketmaster, makes it illegal for brokers to circumvent ticket purchase limits on sites such as Ticketmaster. The Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general are empowered to stop ticket scalpers from buying up tickets by bypassing online controls that limit the number of tickets a person can buy.
With the federal Better Online Ticket Sales law on the books, boxing out competition is the only reason left forTicketmaster to continue its restrictive policies.
We can’t let this continue to happen, which is why NetChoice supports House Bill (HB) 1825.
HB 1825 would reinforce the right for Virginians to resell tickets for any public event where tickets are sold. The bill would codify the ability of Virginians to sell or transfer tickets on any secondary market that they choose. It also would prohibit ticket-holders from being penalized, discriminated against or denied admission for reselling a ticket.
Choice, convenience and competition in the primary and secondary event-ticket markets protect and empower Virginia consumers. These rights shouldn’t be taken away just because Ticketmaster wants to take a third dip in the revenue pool.
Steve DelBianco is executive director of NetChoice and a resident of McLean.