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Pascrell's BOSS ACT Heard by House Committee

Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09) reacted to House committee consideration of the BOSS ACT (Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing), legislation creating a transparent and regulated marketplace for the sale of concert tickets. Designated as H.R. 5245, the bill was heard today by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade. The committee is expected to hold a legislative markup on Federal Trade Commission issues in response to the hearing.

“The ticket industry is full of opaque practices that game the consumer, the casual fan. That's why the BOSS ACT is necessary. It would bring transparency and a set of parameters to a multi-billion dollar industry running amok," Rep. Pascrell said. “Allowing customers to know how many seats are going on sale and what fees they will be charged before they purchase tickets shouldn't be too much to ask. The secondary sales market has gone unchecked for too long. I believe in a right-to-know standard for consumers, and this marketplace should be no different. Thanks to Chairman Upton, Ranking Member Pallone, Subcommittee Chairman Burgess, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Schakowsky for bringing attention to issues in the ticket marketplace. I am hopeful that the committee will help us advance common sense legislation providing basic fairness to fans across our country.”

Among the testimony heard today by the Energy and Commerce subcommittee (video and documents here), was National Consumers League Vice President John Breyault.

"Both H.R. 5245 (the “BOSS ACT”) and H.R. 5104 (the “BOTS Act”) crack down on robotic ticket-buying software, which is a significant cause of fans’ inability to get face-value tickets for popular events," Breyault said. "However, only the BOSS ACT offers comprehensive solutions that, collectively, will significantly improve fans’ ticket buying experiences. By requiring greater transparency in the primary ticketing market, prohibiting egregious broker practices like undisclosed speculative ticketing, and limiting the ability of connected insiders to surreptitiously divert tickets to the secondary market, the BOSS ACT would lead to beneficial reforms in the ticketing marketplace." (testimony)

While recommending further action within the bill, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, "The Commission supports the goal of H.R. 5245, the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act of 2016, which would require more transparency in ticket sales." (testimony)

In 2009, after the botched sale of tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert at the IZOD Center, Rep. Pascrell first introduced the BOSS ACT to establish transparency and accountability in the primary and secondary ticket markets, protect consumers from nefarious business practices, and ensure that the real fans would get the first crack at tickets to their favorite shows.

Since then, developments in the ticketing industry have prompted an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, at Rep. Pascrell’s request, that led to prohibitions on some of the secondary market’s worst marketing practices. The market has also seen an increase in technological changes, like the use of bots to flood ticket sellers’ websites; and new examples of real fans being shut out when it comes to getting tickets to their see their favorite artists.

Provisions of the improved BOSS ACT (bill):

• Require the FTC to prescribe rules regarding primary sale, distribution and pricing of tickets, including transparency of how many tickets will be offered for sale, and how much fees on each ticket will be before you order.

• Prohibit primary sellers from restricting where consumers can resell their tickets

• Require that secondary market companies verify that a ticket reseller is in possession of a ticket, or has entered into a binding contract to purchase a ticket, before offering the ticket for sale.

• Prohibit the use of software called bots which circumvent a security measure, access control system, or other control or measure on a primary ticket seller’s Internet website used to ensure equitable customer access to tickets

• Require that an online resale marketplace not make any representation of affiliation or endorsement with a venue, team, or artist without express written consent, as well as required disclosure on a secondary seller’s website that it is a secondary sale

In December, before the first leg of the Springsteen Tour went on sale, Pascrell wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting an investigation into pre-sale of tickets and the concert ticket industry in general:

"Like many of my constituents in Northern New Jersey and music fans from across the United States, I was excited to learn that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band would be embarking on a concert tour early next year. However, I was disappointed to learn that days before tickets are set to go on sale to the general public, thousands of seats for these tour dates had already gone on sale on ticket reselling websites," Rep. Pascrell wrote. "As someone who has long been concerned about lack of oversight of the event ticket marketplace, I am requesting that you investigate this particular incident further. Additionally, I urge you to help shed light on the opaque business practices of the multi-billion dollar concert ticket industry that could include market speculation, market manipulation, and collusion."

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