An open letter to Sen. Fetterman, Sen. Casey.
  1. United States
  2. Pa.
  3. Letter

An Open Letter

To: Sen. Fetterman, Sen. Casey

From: A constituent in Wexford, PA

May 10

I am writing to urge you to block the Ticketmaster-backed “Fans First Act” as it is currently written. This act would serve to strengthen Ticketmaster/Live Nation’s monopoly by making it more difficult to resell tickets - while on the surface this seems like a good thing, as it would allow less tickets to be sold to scalpers, it also serves to force consumers to use Ticketmaster more because there are less tickets available for resale/transfer at a time. This allows Ticketmaster to continue to charge exorbitant fees for tickets, as they’ll have less competition, even in the resale market. The bill currently states that a ticket is “license to enter an event venue or occupy a particular seat or area in an event venue.” However, having a ticket should not grant the holder “license to enter” - having a ticket should grant the holder a “right to enter.” This may seem like a small difference, but licenses can be revoked, and if Ticketmaster were to act in bad faith with this verbiage, they (or the event organizer) could revoke the “license” if a ticket was resold; again, driving consumers to only purchase their tickets from Ticketmaster. It also requires secondary ticket sellers to offer the option to provide their personal information to the artist and venue. While this could be used in case of show cancelations etc., it also means that Ticketmaster can and will harvest this data to attempt to market themselves to secondary ticket buyers in the future as another way to ice out secondary ticket sellers. The bill as written would also hinder secondary ticket sellers’ ability to identity the event their tickets are for by preventing the secondary ticket seller from putting the event name in the URL, making it harder to find in search engines and, again, icing out secondary ticket sellers. Fans First also includes a provision for the GAO to study ticket marketing practices, but the questions outlined for the study are biased against secondary ticket sellers and sales, assuming that all resellers engage in unethical or illegal tactics to sell tickets and attempt to manipulate the market. No such questions or language is present about primary ticket sellers. Finally, the act requires “all-in” ticketing, which means that all fees must be clearly stated when first displaying ticket prices to consumers online. However, this part of the bill does not have any provisions outlining how dynamic pricing will work. As journalist Diana Moss puts it, “For example, will ticket sellers refrain from pro-competitive advertising if dynamic prices differ from advertised prices? This uncertainty risks tilting the market toward Ticketmaster, and against resellers.” I appreciate that Congress and the Senate are working on this issue. However, any bill backed by the monopoly it aims to break up must be carefully looked at, as most cooperations will prefer bills that have “more loopholes”, or hurt their competition even more than it hurts themselves.

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