Bipartisan senators introduce ticketing reform legislation

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A bipartisan group of senators this week introduced a bill to reform the event ticketing systems that have given sports and music fans a headache over the last year.

“The current ticketing system is riddled with problems and doesn’t serve the needs of fans, teams, artists, or venues,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the main sponsor of the legislation, said Friday in a press release. “This legislation would rebuild trust in the ticketing system by cracking down on bots and others who take advantage of consumers through price gouging and other predatory practices and increase price transparency for ticket purchasers.”   

The “Fans First Act” aims to add more transparency, promote consumer protection and address “bad actors,” — such as resellers who engage in “illegal ticket sale practices.”

The legislation also features sponsors like Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.)

“Buying a ticket to see your favorite artist or team is out of reach for too many Americans,” Klobuchar said in the release. “Bots, hidden fees, and predatory practices are hurting consumers whether they want to catch a home game, an up-and-coming artist or a major headliner like Taylor Swift or Bad Bunny. From ensuring fans get refunds for canceled shows to banning speculative ticket sales, this bipartisan legislation will improve the ticketing experience.”

The legislation comes in the wake of controversy surrounding LiveNation’s Ticketmaster, notably in the sale of pop star Taylor Swift’s tickets to her “The Eras Tour” shows last year. Verified users who tried to buy tickets to the tour in a presale event reported a wide breadth of problems — including frozen web pages, long queues, ticket delays and an excessive number of bots and unverified users flooding the site.

The situation even prompted a response from the “Style” singer herself.

“It’s really difficult for me to trust an outside entity with these relationships and loyalties,” Swift said in a post on her Instagram story at the time, “and excruciating for me to just watch mistakes happen with no recourse.”

“There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward,” the multiple Grammy Award winner wrote.

If passed, the new legislation would require all ticket sellers and resellers to disclose the total cost, including fees, and a breakdown of the price. In addition, they would be required to show proof of purchase within 24 hours and refund buyers if an event is canceled or postponed.

LiveNation came out in support of the bill in a statement to NBC News.

“We believe it’s critical Congress acts to protect fans and artists from predatory resale practices, and have long supported a federal all-in pricing mandate, banning speculative ticketing and deceptive websites, as well as other measures,” the company wrote.

“We look forward to our continued work with policymakers to advocate for even stronger reforms and enforcement,” they added.

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