Messina Vs. WTVF: The Rematch

The strained relationship between Louis Messina and NewsChannel 5 continues.

Another portion of the interview the chief of The Messina Group gave to the Nashville station has aired and, for the second time in a row, he’s not thrilled with the editing.

NewsChannel 5 WTVF has been running an investigative series on the concert industry, based on a seven-month study on whether the artists are scalping their own tickets. Messina, whose promotion of country music concerts has won him plenty of industry awards, gave his take to WTVF. The first segment, which ran the night before the CMA Awards, purported to have Messina confessing that one of his primary artists, and friends, Kenny Chesney was moving tickets over to the secondary market.

Messina had plenty to say to Pollstar about how that interview segment was edited. But then the next segment, which aired Nov. 18, had Messina saying that Ticketmaster scalps its own tickets.

“I think that’s the last non-industry interview I’m going to do,” he told Pollstar Nov. 20. It was a simple case of losing the context.

“Are they [Ticketmaster] feeding their own companies?” Messina said to WTVF. “I would think the answer is yes.”

“The guy just took a lot of stuff out of my interview,” Messina said. What was left on the cutting room floor was the history of TM and its secondary ticketing company, TicketsNow. During the years Sean Moriarty ran TM, the company decided to fight the secondary ticketing market by “joining” them, creating TicketExchange and buying secondary company TicketsNow. The two are becoming one, with fans reselling their tickets through TM instead of a third party.

Pollstar has heard on and off the record that Irving Azoff, who replaced Moriarty as Ticketmaster CEO, never thought this was a good idea and has wanted to hive off TicketsNow from the start. That’s the gist of what Messina told WTVF, and that’s the part that was left out.

“Irving is trying to sell it,” Messina said. “And that’s what I was giving reference to. If a ticket company owns a brokerage company, are they feeding it? Yes. It’s all being changed now. My point is, there’s nothing that’s ever going to be done with ticket scalping until there’s federal legislation. Period. The end.”

Asked to elaborate on what kind of legislation would be necessary, Messina said the government just needs to keep the secondary market from buying tickets without the primary industry knowing about it.

“There’s nothing I can do about it. Everyone has tried. Even in Miley Cyrus’s case, with paperless ticketing, it hurt her sales in the beginning. Because she tried.”

As for Azoff, the people of Front Line Management, and the people of Live Nation: “I’ve known all these people for 30-odd years. They’re not thieves. They’re just running a business.”

As for ticketing?

“[New York Yankees owner] George Steinbrenner built this new stadium and tickets were sky-high. Well, guess what? People didn’t buy tickets so he had to lower the prices. If people don’t want to pay $100 a ticket, they shouldn’t. My point is, if an artist wants to charge $150 for a ticket or $20, it’s their prerogative. It’s their inventory.”

As for interviews?

“This is the last time I’m commenting on ticketing for the rest of my life.”