March 31, 2008
Sen. Don Balfour
Chairman, Senate Rules Committee
Georgia General Assembly
453 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
Subject: HB 1238, amending Georgia law to provide for the Internet resale of tickets.
Dear Chairman Balfour:
The NetChoice coalition writes to support HB 1238, which would allow Georgia consumers a safe and easy way to use Internet websites for buying and selling event tickets. This bill would bring greater choice, convenience and competition to the growing secondary market for event tickets.
The consumer benefits of HB 1238 are considerable. The ticket marketplace differs dramatically from even just a few years ago. This bill permits greater online trading, opening new possibilities to Georgians holding or seeking tickets to entertainment and sporting events.
An open tickets market is an egalitarian force for consumers of sporting events, theater and concerts. On Internet ticket exchange websites, tickets for some events sell for more than face value, while others sell for less. Overall, many if not most ticket prices sell below the total purchase cost, which includes the price of the ticket plus those “convenience” fees we all hate to pay.
For all the pro-consumer reasons noted above, HB 1238 enjoyed unanimous support in the House and was unanimously reported out of Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. So why would event owners and operators be working so hard to stop the progress of HB 1238 in Senate Rules Committee?
To answer that question, it’s easiest to start with the fact that HB 1238 does nothing to prevent owners and operators from imposing and enforcing reasonable and customary restrictions on the conduct of fans.
HB 1238 does not prevent owners from enforcing restrictions against unruly or disruptive conduct by fans. Nor does HB 1238 do anything to stop event owners from enforcing copyright protections against unauthorized descriptions or transmission of a game. In fact, all of the customary conduct restrictions that are printed on the back of tickets can still be enforced, even when a fan obtains his ticket on an Internet website operating a secondary market in accordance with consumer protections required by HB 1238.
Nor does HB 1238 prevent owners and operators from getting into the business of operating their own secondary market exchanges. Teams can endorse selected secondary market exchanges and encourage fans to use those exchanges to buy and sell tickets. The Braves, for example, can continue to collect commissions on every ticket resold on StubHub, the ticket exchange that has officially endorsed by Major League Baseball. HB 1238 would allow the Braves to continue earning commissions when fans decide to use StubHub to buy and sell their tickets.
What, then, do event owners find objectionable about HB 1238? Simply this: HB 1238 prevents event owners and operators from forcing ticket holders to use only a secondary market exchange that compensates the event owners whenever tickets are resold.
Instead, HB 1238 ensures that fans can choose among competing secondary markets when they decide to buy or sell a ticket. That kind of competition, among exchanges that comply with the consumer protections in HB 1238, is in the best interests of Georgia fans and consumers.
Please add your support for HB 1238 to that of the entire House and one Senate Committee. Georgia’s consumers have been waiting long enough for the choice and convenience of an open, online marketplace.
Executive Director, NetChoice
NetChoice is a coalition of trade associations and e-Commerce businesses who share the goal of promoting convenience, choice and commerce on the Net. NetChoice members include AOL, the Association for Competitive Technology, eBay, the Electronic Retailing Association, News Corporation, Oracle, VeriSign, Yahoo! and others.