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US Congress launches investigation into secondary ticketing


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The Energy & Commerce Committee in Washington is launching an investigation into the secondary ticketing sector in the US and has contacted major players in the space – notably Live Nation, AEG, StubHub, Vivid Seats, TicketNetwork and tickets·com – to get them to comply with its efforts. The committee is demanding “detailed information and documents pertaining to the ticketing policies and practices of the companies”. On the House Committee On Energy & Commerce site, it spells out exactly what it intends to do.

“The Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over consumer protection issues, is concerned about potentially unfair and deceptive practices occurring in the primary and secondary ticket marketplace, many of which have been documented in consumer complaints, press stories, and government reports… The members’ letter addresses several concerning trends in the live event ticketing industry that disadvantage consumers, including high, hidden fees, speculative tickets that harm unknowing customers, and ‘white label’ websites that may use practices to deceive consumers.”

This comes after a number of legislative moves in recent years that the committee says were “designed to help level the playing field by ensuring fairness and transparency for consumers”. The problem, the committee believes, is that this has not moved the needle as much as it would have liked, and that “consumers still face a host of troubling practices and trends in the ticketing industry”. It has uploaded copies of all the (lengthy) letters it has sent to the events/ticketing companies named above.

Readers in the UK and Europe will know this is an issue that has been high on the music-industry agenda for years, with not only the rise of ethical re-sale platforms such as Twickets but also the dogged work over many years by the FanFair Alliance. There have been some major breakthroughs because of the campaigning, notably Ticketmaster agreeing to close its two resale sites, GetMeIn and Seatwave, in 2018 in the UK. But the ongoing legal battle with Viagogo and action against “power sellers” on such sites shows that taking definitive action in this area can be an exhausting and protracted process.

Eamonn Forde

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