I really love Leonard Cohen. He is one of the best songwriters anywhere, ever. In his weird and wonderful way, he is a great singer. And a great poet and novelist. I would be happy to pay very good money to see him on his farewell tour. Due to well known and sad circumstances involving his former manager
, he now at the age of 74 really needs the money and, in any case, he absolutely deserves it.
But I would not be happy to pay several hundred bucks or more for a $68 face value seat to a related reseller of Ticketmaster that somehow reportedly magically acquired virtually all of the National Arts Centre’s seats available to the public for primary sale on March 2 within seconds of their supposed general availability to the public.
Cohen will see none of the obscene mark up of several hundred per cent. Even on the face value of a ticket, Cohen would see only a fraction of the proceeds after the concert hall, his management etc. are done with him. Once again, everyone profits on the back of the artist.
There are many reports that these tickets were never available to the general public at advertised prices, due to the arrangements between and behaviour of Ticket master and Ticketsnow. , which is reportedly owned by Ticketmaster and is supposedly “reselling” the tickets supposedly sold to the public. In fact, its been reported
that Ticketsnow actually resells tickets before the primary sales start:
SIMON HOUPT (Globe and Mail)
E-mail Simon Houpt | Read Bio | Latest Columns
February 26, 2009
NEW YORK -- Concert fans hit Ticketmaster with more accusations of improper behaviour yesterday after reports surfaced that the ticket giant's wholly owned subsidiary TicketsNow was selling seats to upcoming Leonard Cohen shows at wildly inflated prices even before Ticketmaster offered them for sale to the public.
The real tragedy here is that Leonard Cohen is the one who deserves to retire with some comfort and to retain a significant amount of what the public is willing to pay to see him perform. He is being cheated of that. Once again, the real creator and the general public are the victims of a corporate controlled system, over which Federal officials are reluctant to exercise even basic oversight.
Canadian laws should be enforced so as to protect creators, and not those who gouge these very creators and the public by exploiting them. In fact, we have such laws. However, earlier yesterday it was reported
Masood Qureshi, a senior officer with the Competition Bureau, said Ticketmaster is allowed to “charge what the market will bear."
This, of course, was utterly predictable, utterly wrong, and unfortunately utterly consistent with the ultra laissez faire
approach of the Competition Bureau in recent years to just about anything other than often fairly minor deceptive (tele)marketing practices, and false and misleading advertising
Fortunately, Industry Minster Tony Clement - who is showing some real promise of being an effective Industry Minister (cross your fingers on copyright!) - has stepped into the breach
and once again effectively overruled the Bureau. This follows a reported “rebuke"
of the former Commissioner of Competition, Sheridan Scott, by the previous Minister, Jim Prentice, following a Federal Court judgment
that was very critical of the Bureau.
There are many provisions in the Competition Act
that should be looked at in this situation based upon what's been reported. For example, one could begin with the crucially important conspiracy provisions in s. 45 which are:
OFFENCES IN RELATION TO COMPETITION
45. (1) Every one who conspires, combines, agrees or arranges with another person
(a) to limit unduly the facilities for transporting, producing, manufacturing, supplying, storing or dealing in any product,
(b) to prevent, limit or lessen, unduly, the manufacture or production of a product or to enhance unreasonably the price thereof,
(c) to prevent or lessen, unduly, competition in the production, manufacture, purchase, barter, sale, storage, rental, transportation or supply of a product, or in the price of insurance on persons or property, or
(d) to otherwise restrain or injure competition unduly,
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine not exceeding ten million dollars or to both.
(2) For greater certainty, in establishing that a conspiracy, combination, agreement or arrangement is in contravention of subsection (1), it shall not be necessary to prove that the conspiracy, combination, agreement or arrangement, if carried into effect, would or would be likely to eliminate, completely or virtually, competition in the market to which it relates or that it was the object of any or all of the parties thereto to eliminate, completely or virtually, competition in that market.
So, hopefully the hundreds of well paid paid enforcers in the Federal Competition Bureau and the Federal Department of Justice can figure out whether they can stop a practice that has caused such massive outrage, and punish those responsible if the law so indicates. If they can, that might help to do something to help Leonard Cohen and the Canadian public. If the State of New Jersey can nail Ticketmaster
, then it's not too much to expect the Federal Government to at least try.
Bravo to Ontario AG Chris Bentley for turning on the heat
and perhaps thereby prodding Minister Clement to get involved. But this is really a matter for the feds and is of concern throughout Canada.
This occasion should remind Minister Clement of the extreme importance of appointing a successor to Sheridan Scott who will vigorously enforce the Competition Act, especially at a time when laissez faire
deregulation and abandonment of oversight has proven so obviously to lead to excess greed and serious economic failure. The Competition Act
was, at least once upon a time, seen to be a key element of the infrastructure for ensuring market efficiency, integrity and consumer protection.
Leonard, I hope that this all works out. For your sake and that of your millions of adoring fans, a.k.a. "the public."