Senate Bill Aims to Revamp the Concert Ticketing System

Almost a year after the U.S. Senate held a high-profile hearing on the concert ticketing industry, a bipartisan group of high-profile senators has unveiled a sweeping bill that promises to overhaul the current system. Introduced on Friday (December 8), the Fans First Act would require more disclosure about tickets being sold, add to consumer protection rules for ticket sellers, and impose civil penalties on violators, according to an announcement. The bill’s sponsors are Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and John Cornyn Texas, along with Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn and Roger Wicker and Democrats Ben Ray Luján and Peter Welch.

Billboard called the legislation “the most comprehensive ticketing industry reform package ever introduced in Congress.” Included in the Fans First Act is the requirement of all ticket sellers and resellers to disclose the total cost of the ticket, including fees, when the ticket is initially selected for purchase. Sellers and resellers would also be required to disclose a breakdown of the ticket cost, “clear terms and conditions of purchase,” the seat or section of the ticket, and whether they are the original seller.

On the consumer protection side, the bill would beef up the BOTS Act, a 2016 law that bans the use of automated “bots” to buy tickets online. Under the bill, sellers and resellers would be required to give proof of purchase to ticket buyers within 24 hours of purchase. When a concert is canceled, the bill would require sellers and resellers to fund the full cost of the ticket. The bill would also mandate a Government Accountability Office study of the ticketing marketplace for further recommendations.

The bill also includes measures aimed at cracking down on bad actors. Along with imposing civil penalties on resellers engaged in illegal ticket sale practices, the Fans First Act would establish a reporting website for fans to file complaints, and the legislation would put the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general in charge of enforcing the rules. In addition, the bill would ban sales of “speculative” tickets, or tickets listed for sale that the reseller does not actually own. The bill also aims to block the use of deceptive websites and other attempts by scammers to pose as legitimate sellers.

While the Fans First Act has a wide range of music industry supporters—including the Recording Academy, which holds the Grammy Awards, and Fix the Tix, a coalition of groups representing artists, independent venues, record labels, and more—some activists have privately criticized the compromises in the bill, The New York Times reports. For instance, the Fans First Act would ban speculative ticket sales, but it would continue to permit “concierge” services, where a buyer pays a broker to wait in a digital queue so they don’t also have to wait. Consumer advocates have contended that this practice is unfair to ordinary fans.

Author: Michael

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