Pascrell, Pallone Hail FTC Action on Corrupted Live Events Ticket Market
PATERSON, NJ – Today, U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), the Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, applauded the announcement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that it was convening a consumer and competition workshop on March 27, 2019 “to discuss problematic practices in the online event ticket marketplace.”
“Today’s announcement by the FTC is a welcome move against a concentrated market that has been ripping off millions of Americans for years,” said Rep. Pascrell. “It comes in direct result of years of our advocacy practically begging the executive branch to apply greater scrutiny to anti-consumer, anti-competition ticket sellers like Live Nation and Ticketmaster. Yet while this is a strong statement of action by the FTC, it is only a start. Both the FTC and the Justice Department must continue to stand against monopolies that strangle competition and rip off customers as a matter of course. Americans have waited too long to be able to enjoy a little entertainment without being taken to the cleaners. I appreciate Congressman Pallone’s partnership as we work to bring oversight and transparency to this industry run amok.”
“This is an important step to finally begin addressing fraud in the ticked marketplace,” said Rep. Pallone. “All too often fans cannot get tickets at face value or at all because the deck has been stacked against them in favor of professional ticket brokers, illegal ticket bots, and unscrupulous resellers. The event ticketing industry is out of control and the FTC needs to take action. Congressman Pascrell and I will continue to pursue both executive and legislative action to ensure a fair marketplace for consumers.”
The FTC’s action comes in direct response to a July 20, 2018 letter from Pascrell and Pallone to FTC chairman Joseph Simons. In the letter, the members called on the FTC “to act against deceptive and unfair practices” in the live events marketplace, as well as “anticompetitive conduct” and “issues of unavailable tickets, high prices, exorbitant fees, market concentration, hidden add-ons, and rampant speculation.”
Together, Reps. Pascrell and Pallone commissioned a study from the Government Accountability Office on the live events market which found a myriad of consumer protection and competition issues in the primary and secondary live event ticket markets including unavailable tickets, high prices, exorbitant fees, market concentration, hidden add-ons, and rampant speculation, among other issues.
The FTC workshop will assess the current state of the live event tickets market, focusing specifically on continuing transparency and bot issues in primary ticketing, and disclosure, fee, speculation, and consumer confusion issues on the secondary ticketing side. The FTC is inviting any comments from the public on these subjects and is accepting submissions up to December 5, 2018. Comments may be submitted electronically at this site or in written form to the FTC Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite CC-5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20580 or Constitution Center, 400 7th Street, SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20024. The FTC has also created an email box accepting suggestions regarding potential workshop participants. The public may email these ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congressman Pascrell has been a leader in Congress calling for regulation of the opaque live events ticket market. Pascrell was an early critic of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger, and repeatedly urged the Obama administration to reject it, warning that the union would crush competition and harm consumers. After Ticketmaster infamously redirected Bruce Springsteen fans to its secondary site TicketsNow to buy marked up seats without notice, Pascrell introduced the BOSS Act in 2009 to create better transparency in the sale of live event tickets and provide overhaul reform of the unregulated secondary market. The legislation was offered in subsequent congresses and the subject of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in 2016. Rep. Pascrell will be reintroducing a revamped version of his bill. In May, Pascrell wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on his attempts to impose greater positive regulation on the fraught live events ticket market. In September, Pascrell was featured in a wide-ranging investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation into corruption in the live events ticket marketplace. Pascrell’s interview segment is available here.