Senators unveil live ticketing reform bill targeting bots and resellers

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The dome of the US Capitol Building is seen at sunset on October 17, 2023 in Washington, DC

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A year after Taylor Swift ticket sales were largely disrupted due to a technical glitch at Ticketmaster, one of the nation’s largest event ticketers, a group of U.S. senators has announced a plan to make life easier for sports fans and concertgoers. A bill has been introduced for.

The legislation, known as the Fans First Act, proposes new restrictions on ticket resellers, increasing protections against online bots swooping in to snatch tickets from real fans and giving ticket sellers everywhere an “all-in” price. Imposes new disclosure requirements requiring disclosure of determinations. Their listing, including any fees.

A bill from a half-dozen senators from both political parties could ban predatory activities in secondary ticketing markets. This could give ticket buyers better pricing information and give the federal government more resources to crack down on illegal ticket sales practices.

But focusing heavily on the behavior of ticket resellers and bots, the bill leaves out some key demands from consumer groups, and may not mitigate the criticism that targets major first-party sellers like Ticketmaster, whose Swift There was a notorious breakdown during the much-anticipated tour sale. There was widespread consumer outrage, congressional hearings, and a public rebuke from the artist himself.

The legislation reflects some proposals supported by consumer advocacy groups, such as a requirement to display all pricing. But the senators’ announcement Friday did not include other policies that consumer groups had sought, such as guaranteeing ticketholders the right to transfer their own tickets to others or giving ticketholders the right to set a different price. Allowing capacity. When reselling your tickets at prices higher than those set by first-party ticket sellers.

Brian Hayes at the Ticket Buyers Bill of Rights, a consumer advocacy group, said the legislation “contains many important consumer protections” and his group supported the bill. “We look forward to working with sponsors to ensure fans remain at the center of the legislative process.”

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Concertgoers attend the “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” concert at SoFi Stadium on August 7, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, supported the bill on Friday.

“We support the Fans First Act and welcome legislation that will bring positive improvements to live event ticketing,” the company said in a statement. “We believe Congress has an important role to play in protecting fans and artists from predatory resale practices, and have long supported a federal all-in pricing mandate, banning speculative ticketing and deceptive websites It applies, and also takes other measures. We look forward to our continued work with policymakers to advocate for even stronger reforms and enforcement.

Sponsors of the bill said it is designed to work in conjunction with other ticketing laws.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, one of the lead authors of the Fans First Act, said, “The current ticketing system is riddled with problems and does not meet the needs of fans, teams, artists or venues.” “This legislation will rebuild trust in the ticketing system by cracking down on bots and others that take advantage of consumers through price gouging and other predatory practices and increase price transparency for ticket buyers.”

Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, said the Fans First Act would ensure that fans receive refunds for canceled shows and would ban “speculative ticket sales”, where a reseller sells a ticket. Which they claim but they do. Not really yours.

And Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, who co-authored the signature Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, which became law in 2016 and which prohibits the use of automated software to buy tickets en masse, said that The Fan First Act would “move forward on its work to improve ticket sales transparency by strengthening the FTC to enforce consumer protections.”

In a release, lawmakers said the bill has the support of groups representing artists, venues and music publishers.

The introduction of the Fans First Act follows a similar bill, the Tickets Act, which was approved by a key House committee on Wednesday. The bill would also prohibit the sale of speculative tickets and require greater transparency in pricing for all ticket sellers.

The uproar over live event ticketing focuses on the economic power of giants like Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which are said to be the subject of a potential antitrust investigation by the US Justice Department.

This January, when antitrust advocates called for breaking up the company, Live Nation argued at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the real problems were bots and ticket scalping on an industrial scale.

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