Crony Capitalism Ticketing Bill Down, But Not Out
Last year, under pressure from the live event and sports industries, the Tennessee legislature introduced and nearly passed the misleadingly titled “Fairness in Ticketing Act” which would have given ticket sellers such as Ticketmaster, and the artists, sports teams, promoters and venues it does business with, unprecedented control over tickets. In other words, the “Fairness in Ticketing Act” would have restricted fans’ rights to transfer event tickets they have purchased.
This brand of crony capitalism – where companies seek government intervention to pick winners and losers in the private sector – has no place in Tennessee, or anywhere else in America. To that end, Americans for Prosperity Tennessee – an organization of grassroots activists s who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets – recently distributed a survey to all 132 members of our state legislature to gauge where they stand on critical issues that they’ll likely face in the 2014 legislative session.
Our survey question regarding ticketing legislation was simple and to-the-point:
“Do you A) Support legislation that will decide what a ticket holder can and cannot do with a ticket they own, or B) Support legislation that will allow a ticket holder to resell or give away a ticket they have purchased however they choose and at whatever price the market determines?”
While I have no doubt that a conservative, pro-free-market legislative body like ours will overwhelmingly select option “B,” the fact of the matter is that after two years of contemplating the Fairness in Ticketing Act, many conservative lawmakers are still unaware of its anti-free-market, anti-consumer consequences. Simply put, the bill seeks approval to use restricted ticketing for concert and sporting events. These tickets are nontransferable, or can only be resold through the ticket issuer’s resale site, in which case it can dictate the resale price and charge transfer fees.
Tennessee lawmakers had a chance to do the right thing by voting down the bill in 2012 and again in 2013, but the bill’s proponents have been able to disguise the legislation as a measure to protect fans from fraudulent ticket resellers. Proponents of the bill also claim that its detractors are all out-of-state ticket scalpers who are only interested in bottom lines.
As we witnessed in 2013, the out-of-state scalper accusation is false. Tennessee fans, along with small businesses, nonprofits and hospitality groups across the state, all of which rely on an active secondary ticketing market, came out in droves to oppose the Fairness in Ticketing Act. Making even more noise against the bill were local, state and national conservative groups, such as the American Conservative Union, the Nashville Tea Party and several county GOP groups. The December/January issue of Fast Company Magazine includes a feature article called “Ticket Wars,” which does an excellent job of encapsulating Ticketmaster’s recent efforts to gain more control of the ticket resale market in Tennessee and across the U.S.
We can all agree that fraudulent websites, counterfeit tickets and illegal ticket-buying software are legitimate problems for Tennesseans; but we should be rallying around a bill that addresses these problems without eroding the free market and asking the government to wade in unnecessarily into private business.
Our legislature has more important issues to address in 2014 than picking winners and losers in business, and if the Fairness in Ticketing Act is placed on committee calendars in 2014 it can expect an even stronger and louder opposition. We call on the bill’s sponsors to pull this misguided legislation from consideration. Americans for Prosperity Tennessee and a growing coalition of business organizations and fans won’t stop until lawmakers address the real issues that concert and sports fans are facing.
Like this post? Chip in $5 to AFP.