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US reps reintroduce pro-transparency Boss Act

On the back of Tuesday’s Federal Trade Commission workshop, three US politicians have reintroduced the dormant Boss Act bill in an attempt to provide “transparency and regulation to the badly corrupted primary and second live events ticket marketplace”.

The Boss Act (Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing) – a sister bill to the ultimately successful Better Online Ticket Sales (Bots) Act, which proscribes the use of ticket bots across the US – was first introduced in 2009 amid controversy over holdbacks for Bruce ‘the Boss’ Springsteen’s Working on a Dream tour. It was reintroduced in 2016 but failed find to the support to become law.

Its provisions include forcing primary sellers to disclose how many tickets will be offered for sale and make clear any fees up front – while also prohibiting promoters and ticketing companies from restricting where buyers can resell their tickets.

The US representative for the ninth district of New Jersey, Bill Pascrell Jnr – who yesterday introduced the Boss Act 2019 alonsgide fellow representatives Frank Pallone Jnr and Richard Blumenthal – comments: “Even though it’s 2019, the $9 billion live events ticket market resembles the Wild West: bereft of regulation and order, with bad actors around too many corners making a living by ripping people off. The Boss Act would finally impose hard regulation and transparency to the ticket market so that fans can find affordable tickets and enjoy some live entertainment in these uneasy times without fear of being taken to the cleaners.

“Americans have been gouged and gouged and then gouged some more”

“Americans have been gouged and gouged and then gouged some more. Ticket buyers don’t know how many tickets are going on sale or how many are being held back, can’t see what fees will be tacked on, and sometimes don’t even know if the tickets they are purchasing exist yet. For too long on these issues, our government has failed to hear the ghost of Tom Joad [a Springsteen song], the common man and woman. It’s high time government stands up for him and for them.”

Supporting Pascrell (pictured) and co’s efforts is the National Consumers League (NCL), whose executive director, Sally Greenberg, adds: “Anyone who has tried to buy a ticket recently knows that the ticketing marketplace is rigged against us. Fans are forced to navigate a maze of hidden fees, rampant ticket holdbacks that create artificial ‘sell-outs’ and illegal ticket-buying bots that cut in line to hoard the best seats before fans even have a chance to buy them.

“Congressman Pascrell’s Boss Act is the fix the broken ticket market needs. The bill will bring much-needed transparency to an opaque ticket-buying process and put consumers in control of their tickets. NCL applauds Congressman Pascrell’s leadership on this issue and looks forward to seeing this critical consumer protection measure signed into law.”

The text of the updated Boss Act 2019 can be read in full here.


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Ireland ‘set to outlaw for-profit ticket resale’

The government of the Republic of Ireland is reportedly set to give its backing to legislation outlawing the resale of tickets above face value.

MPs Noel Rock and Stephen Donnelly are to meet with officials from the department of business this week, following the end of a review of the Irish ticketing sector, the Examiner reports, with government expected to give its backing to anti-ticket touting legislation. Rock and Donnelly introduced the Prohibition of Above-Cost Ticket Touting Bill in January 2017, sparking a public consultation on secondary ticketing.

The consultation, which wrapped up last May, garnered responses from promoter Aiken Promotions; consumer groups ECC Ireland and the Consumers’ Association of Ireland; sports governing bodies GAA, FAI and IRFU; primary ticket agencies Ticketmaster Ireland and; and several secondary sites, including StubHub, Seatwave and Viagogo. Both the primary and secondary ticket agencies that responded were opposed to further regulation.

Now, according to the Irish Examiner, Donnelly (pictured) and Rock will jointly present a private members’ bill that would outlaw the above-face value reselling of tickets, which will then be accepted by the Irish government.

“This will change mindsets,” Donnelly tells the paper. “Anyone trying to sell at an inflated price will be breaking the law. It will be a culture change.”


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Music legends turn out for agent of change

British artists, politicians and senior music industry figures headed to Westminster this morning in support of John Spellar MP’s bill to enshrine the agent-of-change principle in UK law.

The proposed legislation, announced at Venues Day last October, would require property developers to take into account pre-existing businesses, like music venues, before proceeding with a project, and is backed as a crucial weapon in the fight against venue closures by industry groups such as Music Venue Trust, UK Music and the Musicians’ Union.

The Planning (Agent of Change) Bill has the backing of at least 75 MPs and peers, including former culture minister Ed Vaizey, as well as artists including Sir Paul McCartney, Ray Davies, Glen Matlock, Chrissie Hynde, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, Billy Bragg, Craig David, Feargal Sharkey and Brian Eno.

“So many of the bottom rungs of the ladder have been taken away”

Speaking to IQ before the bill’s first reading in parliament today, Mason said he is backing the Spellar bill to protect venues as a lifeline for “young musicians in the 21st century”. “It’s a much tougher environment now than it ever was,” he explained. “So many of the bottom rungs of the ladder have been taken away … it’s important for young people to feel like they could have a career in music if they wanted it.”

J. Willgoose, Esq., one third of Public Service Broadcasting, said it’s important artists who have graduated on from grassroots venues don’t “pull up the ladder behind us”. “We were the beneficiaries of being one of the last generations of musicians who had a fertile, up-and-coming pub and club scene, which we benefited from enormously,” he said.

“If you look at some of the venues we played in early days, and how many of them have now closed, especially in London, it’s a frighteningly high percentage.”

“Moving to a city then complaining about the noise from venues is like moving to the country and complaining about the smell of cow muck”

Bragg told IQ that while agent of change won’t tackle the symptoms of the problems facing music venues – chiefly low interest rates making home ownership the only way to make a solid return on investment, leading to a boom in development – it is “going to put the onus on properly developments to recognise that they’re building in an area which is a cultural hub, and that’s really, really important”. (He joked that moving to a city then complaining about the noise from venues is like “moving to the country and complaining about the smell of cow muck”.)

UK Music chief executive praised the “great turnout” for the pre-bill reading photocall, opposite the houses of parliament, and said he hopes ministers will “listen to the strength of feeling from grassroots campaigners, communities from up and down the country, artists, songwriters and MPs from all parties. It’s time now to back the act and make that change that we need.”

The bill was well received by a majority of MPs – or, in parliamentary jargon, the ayes had it – and will proceed to its second reading on 19 January. Spellar’s presentation of the bill can be viewed on the website.


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