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WASHINGTON — Swifties, the BeyHive and Cure fans may have something to celebrate: Senators are set to introduce bipartisan bill Wednesday targeting hidden ticket fees for live events.
The measure, dubbed the TICKET Act (Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing Act), would require ticket retailers to disclose full ticket prices, including fees, in advance for concerts, sporting events and other large gatherings.
The new bill follows the reintroduction of the Junk Fee Prevention Act in the House of Representatives earlier this month by Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Jeff Jackson, DN.C., and the Biden administration is seeking to push fee transparency.
It also comes as lawmakers wage a broader fight against ticket sellers. In December, Taylor Swift fans sued Live Nation after the Ticketmaster website crashed during presales for the artist’s The Eras Tour. The fiasco prompted the Senate Judiciary Committee to probe the entertainment conglomerate’s power over the industry in a January hearing. Back then, some critics on Capitol Hill called Live Nation a monopoly.
Ticketmaster also pledged to return some money to fans who bought tickets to goth rock band The Cure’s Shows Of A Lost World Tour earlier this year after group leader Robert Smith slammed the prizes. The ticket seller offered up to $10 back to verified fan accounts after agreeing with the band that many of the fees charged during transactions were “unreasonably high,” Smith tweeted March 16.
The new bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Chair of the Chamber’s Commerce Committee, and Senior Member Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
“The price they say should be the price you pay. This bill is part of broader legislation I want to introduce to curb misleading junk fees that are skyrocketing costs to consumers,” Cantwell said in a statement.
In his statement, Cruz said, “The TICKET Act brings transparency to the entire ticketing industry, which is dominated by a few major players who can benefit from these hidden fees.”
Ticket fees can account for anywhere from 21% to 58% of the total cost of tickets, according to a statement from the committee. The bill aims to encourage competition “by providing ticket fees and speculative ticket transparency for the benefit of all consumers,” the committee said.
If the measure passes, ticket sellers in the primary and secondary markets — like Live Nation, owned by Ticketmaster and SeatGeek — would have to disclose the full ticket price, including itemized fees, at the start of a transaction and prior to ticket selection. Total ticket prices must also be clearly displayed during event marketing.
Secondary market sellers would be required to fully disclose speculative ticket status, meaning the seller has no actual ownership of the ticket.
President Joe Biden emphasized the government’s efforts to crack down on junk charges during his State of the Union address in February. Among other areas, he called for action against excessive fees for concerts, sporting events and other forms of entertainment. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sheldon Whitehouse, DR.I., introduced Senate legislation accompanying Biden’s plan in March.
In parallel with the government’s goals, the Federal Trade Commission also released a rulemaking process on November 8, 2022 – the day of the midterm elections – to investigate unfair acts or practices related to ticket sales and other various fees.
Ticketmaster has said it doesn’t control fees but retains some of its operating costs, according to a Feb. 7 blog post. The provider also said it already supports “all-in” pricing in New York state and advocates statewide adoption of the policy.
“We remain committed to an industry-wide bid for upfront pricing so fans can see full face value and royalty costs up front. This only works if all ticketing marketplaces together do everything possible so that consumers have really accurate comparisons when buying tickets,” Ticketmaster said in the blog post.