Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We're in trouble folks

Ticketmaster Entertainment has reached a national settlement with the New Jersey Attorney General over its ticketing practices following the outcry over a controversial Bruce Springsteen ticket sale earlier this month, according to Billboard.biz. The ticketing giant has agreed to change some of the ways in which it does business, most notably by saying it will stop directing customers to its ticket resale site, TicketsNow, for at least one year, with any linking following that to be approved by the office of Attorney General Anne Milgram.

In addition, all tickets that Ticketmaster receives for general sales to the public will not be sold or offered on TicketsNow before the official sale begins. The company will also refrain from using Internet advertising that directs customers doing a search for Ticketmaster to TicketsNow.

Springsteen and his manager Jon Landau issued a withering statement on February 4th expressing outrage over Ticketmaster's problem-plagued sale of tickets to his upcoming tour two days earlier (February 2nd). Many fans were instantly shut out of buying tickets and redirected to TicketsNow, where prices are often jacked up by hundreds of dollars.
Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff issued an open letter of apology to Springsteen, but the incident prompted an investigation in New Jersey.

Milgram also announced that Ticketmaster will make 2,000 tickets for Springsteen's upcoming May concerts in New Jersey available for face value through a lottery, with all the usual Ticketmaster fees and service charges to be waived.

Ticketmaster has also agreed to refund customers who were redirected to buy tickets through TicketsNow at a higher price in the first five hours of the Springsteen sale, and will complete transactions for those customers whose credit cards were charged but never received their tickets due to technical problems at the Ticketmaster website.
Milgram said in a statement, "Everyone deserves an equal chance to buy tickets on a primary ticket selling website and shouldn't be steered to a re-selling website where the prices can be substantially higher."

Meanwhile, Ticketmaster's proposed merger with Live Nation, which would create a virtual monopoly over ticket sales, merchandising, corporate sponsorships and recorded music, will face scrutiny on Tuesday (February 24th) from the Senate Judiciary Committee's "Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights." The hearing is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET and is expected to address antitrust concerns regarding the proposed consolidation of the two behemoths.

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