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FTC Commissioner Slaughter

The Federal Trade Commission To Stage A Workshop On Digital Ticketing

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WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) — The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday announced plans to examine consumer protection and competition issues related to the online event-ticket marketplace during a public “workshop” on March 27, 2019.

The workshop will feature opening remarks by FTC Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and will include industry players and trade associations as well as consumer advocates, academics and government officials, who will discuss “problematic practices” in the online ticketing industry.

The FTC noted that issues that frequently arise around the online ticketing industry include practices that prevent consumers from obtaining tickets, which mislead consumers about price or availability or mislead consumers about the entity from which they are purchasing.

Areas of focus for the workshop include both the primary and secondary ticket markets.

In the primary market, the workshop will address:

  • Transparency and lack of ticket availability.
  • Ticket bots and the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS Act).

Subjects related to the secondary market planned for the workshop include:

  • Disclosures of pricing, fees, and speculative tickets.
  • Consumer confusion regarding search engine advertisements and websites of resellers versus official primary ticket sellers.

“The online event ticket industry has been a frequent topic of consumer and competitor complaints, and FTC staff is seeking public input in advance of the workshop, including possible discussion topics and potential participants,” a statement from the FCC said.

The public has been invited to offer comment on ticketing issues and can submit their views through Dec. 5th via email, or through a website set up for the event.

Live Nation’s Ticketmaster has indicated that it is participating in the workshop but was quick to note the collegial nature of the event.

“Ticketmaster welcomes and looks forward to participating in the FTC workshop on online ticketing in March 2019. To be clear, this is an industry-wide workshop – not a probe. We encourage other ticketing companies to take part in educating consumers and lawmakers on the opportunities and challenges in the ticketing industry and to join us in further action to improve the consumer ticket buying experience, including aggressive enforcement of the BOTS Act, the elimination of speculative ticket sales and restrictions on deceptive marketing and misleading ticketing URLs,” a statement from Ticketmaster said.

Ticketmaster was at the heart of the latest secondary market imbroglio last month after an expose by the Toronto Star and CBC appeared to show a cozy relationship between Ticketmaster and secondary market brokers. In the expose, undercover reporters, posing as ticket brokers, recorded videos of sales reps for Ticketmaster’s TradeDesk app. In the video, the sales reps assured what they thought were potential clients that Ticketmaster made no effort to police violations of its terms of service.

Ticketmaster has since stated that it takes its terms of service very seriously, and said it was categorically untrue that they had a program in place to allow brokers to acquire large volumes of tickets. They also noted that they do not condone the statements made by their sales reps.

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