Sen. John Kennedy Bucks Home State To Protect Consumers

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) is locked in a fierce battle with the Louisiana House of Representatives over the ridiculous prices fans are many times forced to pay to see their favorite stars or teams.

There is serious concern over the Taylor Swift ticket insanity last year that saw people paying over $25,000 apiece for her concerts. The state has an odd way, to put it mildly, of addressing the situation.

Louisiana House Bill 341 would ban original sellers of tickets — think Ticketmaster — from offering “nontransferable” tickets unless they additionally offer the purchaser the full ability to transfer tickets at the time of sale.

In other words, if a popular band or singer wants to protect its fans and prevent scalpers from hiking the ticket prices through the stratosphere, they cannot in Louisiana.

Enter Sen. Kennedy, who thrust himself into the forefront of the debate in January. He declared in a Senate hearing that banning this scalping practice would save the public from being confronted with tickets priced in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Of course, his stance is a counterpoint to that of the ticket resale industry, which stands to rake in ludicrous profits. The common practice is to get as many tickets as possible in their possession, which decreases the supply and inflates demand to the point of squeezing out most consumers.

Ticketmaster is the target of most proposed regulations as the Live Nation Entertainment subsidiary controls some 70% of the primary ticket services market in the U.S.

Live Nation President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold threw himself on the mercy of the Senate panel in January. “We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Ms. Swift, we need to do better and we will do better.”

Among his proposals, under pressure of course, was to stagger ticket sales over a longer period and give fans realistic expectations for getting tickets.

Sen. Kennedy’s position is clearly on the side of the consumer, and Louisiana’s is difficult to reconcile with its status as a deeply red state. If HB 341 became law, it would put the Republican stronghold in line with New York and Illinois.

Both of those states came under criticism recently from members of The Cure. The popular band from the 1980s expressed their desire to keep tickets affordable to all fans and lamented how New York and Illinois actually protect scalpers to the detriment of the buying public.

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