A New Jersey State Superior Court judge ruled on March 24 that Clear Channel Entertainment did not break State law by offering American Express cardholders first chance for tickets for concerts last summer at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ.
Judge Lawrence M. Lawson dismissed the state's case against Clear Channel Entertainment, saying the Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs, which sued CCE last October, failed to show CCE withheld tickets from the general public, a violation of the state's Anti-Ticket Scalping law.
The state claimed Clear Channel broke the law when it allowed American Express cardholders three days to buy tickets to 33 concerts before the general
sale. Clear Channel leases the arts center from the New Jersey Highway Authority. The lawsuit sought a permanent injunction against the practice and $10,000 in fines for each violation.
In making his case earlier this month, Deputy Attorney General David Puteska argued that state law clearly mandates only five percent of tickets to shows can be
withheld from the general public while American Express cardholders bought more than half of available tickets to some concerts, reports the Newark Star-Ledger.
Ruling on the side of the defendant, the judge wrote in his opinion: "Clear Channel did not withhold any tickets; it did not keep any tickets in custody. Rather, it sold event tickets at face value with neither a premium
nor a discount through a broad commercial sale."
He further noted that promotional pre-sales are prevalent in the entertainment industry and are legal, and that the state's interpretation of its anti-scalping law would cripple New Jersey's entertainment industry. It would make other promotional presales unlawful as well.
A finding for the state would prohibit artists
from giving fans special access to buy advance tickets to their concerts, the judge
"If Plaintiff's true concern is whether New Jerseyans will have access to
the entertainment venues and forums, then Plaintiff should recognize that
all New Jerseyans would be hard pressed to get tickets to New Jersey concert
events because there will not be any venues to attend," Lawson wrote.
CCE also uses presales at Jones Beach Amphitheatre on Long Island for American Express cardholders, and Radio City Music Hall has a similar program with its credit card sponsor on some shows.
Fair Board Delays CCE Vote
Shed Decision The Florida State Fair Authority postponed its March 24 vote on whether to accept a contract from Clear Channel Entertainment to build an $18 million,
20,000-capacity amphitheater at the fairgrounds, until April 14, reports the St. Petersburg Times. The venue would open early next year.
Authority executive director Rick Vymlatil said the postponement had only to do with ensuring that the proposed contract says what Clear Channel has promised
and not with requests from Hillsborough County and Tampa officials, who have asked the authority to slow the vote so they can review whether the outdoor venue will hurt business at the St. Pete Times Forum ,which is subsidized by taxpayers.
Clear Channel has proposed it will pay rent and other concessions to the fair authority.