Tenn. Ticket Bill Advances

A proposed ticketing bill in Tennessee that’s garnered strong support from venues and artists in the state advanced through a house subcommittee March 12 following a 6-2 vote.

The Fairness in Ticketing Act calls for ticket brokers to register with the state, disclose the face value and location of the seats and explain their refund policy and whether they have the tickets in hand.

The measure would also crack down on websites that masquerade as official venue or artist sites, misleading fans into believing they’re buying from legitimate sources.

Two original elements of the bill that had some legislators crying foul in recent weeks were removed prior to the vote: a section that defined a ticket as a revocable license and another portion that supported paperless ticketing.

Pete Fisher, VP and GM of the Grand Ole Opry, told lawmakers during the session that unscrupulous ticket brokers threaten fans and the concert industry as a whole.

“Without rules in place that require simple disclosures, buyers often end up with no tickets on the day of the show or seats in a completely different location,” Fisher said. “Tennesseans should know that if they buy a ticket with their hard-earned dollars, they should get to see the game or the concert that they bought that ticket for.”

Fisher was joined by other venue representatives including Robert Skoney of the Nashville Municipal Auditorium and artist manager Chris Parr from Spalding Entertainment.

Rep. Ryan Haynes, who sponsored the original version of the bill, noted during the session that the amended version watered down some of the language that was “much tougher” on scalpers with regards to paperless ticketing.

But despite the removal of that provision, consumer advocates and representatives for Stubhub raised several additional concerns with Fairness In Ticketing, noting the bill will still strip consumers of their resale rights and impose strict conditions on resale marketplaces.

“What StubHub and our customers want is to keep the market open and competitive,” StubHub legal council Lance Lanciault said. “We compete vigorously with Ticketmaster and other resale marketplaces, we provide the best consumer protections in the business and we want our consumers to be able to get the benefits of competition in the secondary marketplace.”

Fairness In Ticketing heads to additional committees for review and must be approved by both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly to become law.

In other ticket news, the Arkansas House recently rejected a proposal that would have legalized scalping of concert tickets in the state.

Under the state’s current anti-scalping law, violators can be fined $25 to $500 for selling tickets above face value. Rep. Douglas House, who sponsored the proposal, claims the law allows the government to interfere with the free market and urged its repeal.