STANDING COMMITTEE ON
DE LA JUSTICE
Thursday 25 November 2010 Jeudi 25 novembre 2010
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Good morning. Welcome to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy. The first item on the agenda is the report of the subcommittee on committee business. Mr. Mauro.
(2) That the committee clerk, with the authorization of the Chair, post information regarding public hearings on the Ontario parliamentary channel, the Legislative Assembly website and the Canada NewsWire.
(6) That representatives from eBay, the Ottawa Senators, Ticketmaster and StubHub be invited to appear before the committee and provide a presentation of up to 30 minutes. This time is to include questions from the committee.
(11) That the committee clerk, in consultation with the Chair, be authorized prior to the adoption of the report of the subcommittee to commence making any preliminary arrangements necessary to facilitate the committee’s proceedings.
We appreciate the opportunity to come here today to speak with you and, hopefully, help advance your understanding of the industry and the real issues for consumers. And there are real issues, issues that we think ought to be addressed. However, I can say without reservation that this bill, as it is currently written, does nothing whatsoever to protect the ticket-buying public.
The bill is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the services we provide and how this industry works. Instead of protecting the public, it will actually reduce competition in the resale marketplace and tilt the playing field away from the consumer. At the same time, the bill does nothing to address the legitimate concerns of the ticket-buying public. I will speak to those concerns in a moment.
Ticketmaster is an industry leader in the technology and processes that offer the ticket buyer fast, fair and secure access to tickets. Ticketmaster’s system can process more than 10,000 tickets per minute, thus meeting consumer demand for the most popular sports and entertainment events.
Ticketmaster provides two distinct services. Ticketmaster’s computerized ticketing system enables initial offerings to the public of tickets owned by entertainers, promoters, sports teams and venues. Our service provides an opportunity for people to purchase tickets online, by phone or at one of a number of retail locations. TicketsNow, on the other hand, is an online ticket resale marketplace through which individuals and professional brokers offer event tickets they own for resale to consumers.
In either case, it is important to note that Ticketmaster Canada does not own any of the tickets offered through its Ticketmaster agency or the TicketsNow resale site. We simply provide the platform for the transaction.
Let me restate that, because it is an absolutely critical point: The tickets that Ticketmaster Canada offers for sale to the public are not owned by Ticketmaster Canada. They belong to our clients: the entertainers, promoters, sports teams and venues. These are the rights holders of tickets and, as such, they are the ones who have the right to retain tickets to sell or distribute the tickets as fits their consumer offering or marketing plans. They choose what and how they sell or distribute the tickets, and they set the prices for those tickets.
Ticketmaster Canada acts as an agent on their behalf and makes tickets available, as directed by our clients, to the general public. Moreover, as their agent, we have an obligation to make those tickets available to their customers—the fans—as they direct.
The tickets offered for sale on the TicketsNow website are not owned or placed on TicketsNow by Ticketmaster Canada. They are owned by individual sellers and professional brokers who choose to list tickets on that site. But Bill 172 is built entirely around the assumption that a primary seller, Ticketmaster Canada, will withhold tickets from the public and secretly spirit them away to its resale site to sell at a higher price for profit.
We cannot and we do not divert tickets between Ticketmaster Canada and TicketsNow or provide preferential access to primary market tickets to TicketsNow. They are simply not our tickets; they don’t belong to us. We do not divert or resell them somewhere else. Again, let me be absolutely clear: The tickets that Ticketmaster Canada offers for sale on behalf of its clients, it does not own and it does not divert.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there are many, many resale marketplaces out there, from dedicated websites like TicketsNow and StubHub to online classified sites like craigslist and Kijiji to newspaper classified ads that you might find in any community across the province. If you were to look, you will find tickets to the same sporting or entertainment events on all of these—and not just the one that happens to be affiliated with a primary ticket seller.
Whether or not there is a relationship between these sites, the primary seller has nothing to do whatsoever with where the tickets come from. Just this morning, I went online and I found some tickets for Robert Plant’s sold-out show available on all of these sites that I have just mentioned. Clearly, a relationship between a resale marketplace and the primary seller is not a pre-condition for these sites having the ability to list tickets for sale. The fact is, in addition to individuals selling tickets to events they might not be able to go to, there is an entire speculative ticket broker industry out there that is able to get access to tickets without Ticketmaster Canada’s help.
We understand that some people are skeptical about this when they see tickets for high-demand shows sell out quickly, yet can find plenty of seats available on resale sites. Clearly, they have come to the incorrect conclusion that tickets had simply been pulled off the primary market by a ticket seller and placed on a resale market, whether on a site they own or otherwise.
Let me also take a moment to address some of the confusion out there about how it is that tickets to an event can sell out so quickly, which I believe has led some people to improperly conclude that tickets are being diverted.
First of all, it is important to understand that some tickets may not be made available for sale to the general public. The owners of the tickets—that is, the venues, teams, promoters and artists—have the right to decide how many tickets they are going to sell or distribute according to their own business needs. Ticketmaster Canada, acting as their agent, makes available all of the tickets that the client chooses to offer for sale to the public. This does not mean that we are selling every seat in the venue. What goes on sale is the decision of our client, the holder of the right to the ticket, and not Ticketmaster Canada.
Secondly, I would remind you that Ticketmaster’s ticketing system can process more than 10,000 tickets per minute. Consequently, popular shows do sell out in mere minutes. For example, if we have 16,000 tickets available for a high-demand concert, and each purchaser orders four tickets, then we are sold out after only 4,000 orders, even though there are many more fans also wanting to buy tickets. In a situation like that, every one of those tickets could conceivably be snapped up in that first minute.
I appreciate the government’s interest in protecting consumers. We also have an interest in this, and we have acted on it. Ticketmaster invests heavily in consumer protection through the development of innovative technology, and is a leader in purchaser information security, buyer guarantee, fraud protection, and crackdowns on brokers purchasing en masse through online software robots. We have helped law enforcement agencies and government authorities in their efforts to understand this industry and protect the ticket-buying public. We don’t just talk the talk.
Strengthening penalties for the selling of counterfeit or fraudulent tickets: From time to time, people buying tickets from a reseller will discover, usually at the venue itself, that the ticket they purchased is not a real ticket. It’s a clever fake, a knock-off, and the disappointed fan is turned away at the door. Why doesn’t the bill attempt to strengthen the penalties for this offence that are already on the books but rarely enforced?
Incidentally, I would note that a ticket sold initially by Ticketmaster Canada and then resold by a third party through TicketsNow can actually be authenticated, thus enhancing consumer protection in a way that nobody else can. It’s perhaps ironic, therefore, that the resale site that is best positioned to guarantee that a ticket purchased is actually a real ticket is the very site that is being targeted by the legislation.
Mr. Tom Worrall: Section seating: Another issue for consumers is ensuring that they get what they paid for. If a reseller advertises that they have tickets in a certain section, they ought to be able to deliver. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and the ticket purchaser finds that they have bought tickets for seats that simply were not as good as they were promised. Does the bill do anything about this? No, it does not.
Pre-listing on resale sites: We know that the practice of some resale sites offering tickets for sale before they actually have the tickets in hand is a concern to some people. We believe that any company operating in this space must adhere to clear rules so that the consumer knows what to expect when they make their purchase. I would note that the bill does nothing to address this.
Purchases by automated robots: We support the public’s view that every ticket buyer deserves an equal chance when purchasing tickets. Ticketmaster Canada goes to extraordinary efforts and expense—and remains committed to protecting the integrity of our site for the benefit of our consumers and clients—to thwart the unscrupulous individuals who use automated programs to unfairly and illegally cut to the front of the line by launching multiple, automated ticket requests at the time of high-demand events going on sale. In fact, just last week in the United States, three men pled guilty to charges that they had been cheating regular fans by using sophisticated computer technology to purchase millions of dollars of tickets ahead of everyone else, then turning around and selling them for a profit. Ticketmaster Canada heavily invests in developing new technology, processes and legal efforts to protect consumers. A number of jurisdictions have introduced legislation and enforcement to deal with this issue, yet Ontario has not yet acted. Why not?
Let’s recap. We have a bill that is designed to stop a primary ticket seller—in this case, Ticketmaster Canada—from allowing an associated resale site to make tickets available for the same event for which the primary seller is making tickets available. As I understand it, the Attorney General’s intent is to prevent a primary seller from withholding tickets and diverting tickets to be sold at a higher price for profit on a resale site that it also owns.
As I have stated, this can’t and does not happen. So Ticketmaster Canada, a legal and legitimate business, is being punished for something it does not do. We also know that the bill doesn’t introduce any new measures to protect the ticket-buying public from those resellers looking to defraud the public.
Given that the bill does nothing to advance consumer protection, and in fact weakens it, why is the bill before the Legislature at all? On that question, perhaps it’s best that I leave it to you to speculate.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Thank you, Mr. Worrall. We have about 15 minutes, so we’re going to split the time amongst the three parties and we’ll begin with the Conservative Party if there are any questions. Mr. Chudleigh?
You mentioned that TicketsNow sells authenticated or valid tickets and they can validate that the ticket that they are reselling is a valid ticket to the venue. Are they the only organization reselling tickets in Ontario that can do that?
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Thank you. Again, you were fairly clear. The bill suggests that the association between a primary site and a resale site is essential to issuing diverted tickets. Is that actually the case?
Mr. Tom Worrall: No. Because we don’t own the ticket—any primary ticket seller, whether it’s Ticketmaster Canada, Mirvish Productions, CapitalTickets.ca in Ottawa, they do not own the tickets as a ticket agency. It’s owned by the entertainer, the sports team or the venue.
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: You also mentioned that you don’t necessarily get all the tickets for a venue. I understand that a portion of the tickets may go to a promotional basis. Are there other places these tickets might go to?
Mr. Tom Worrall: Mainly, it’s held for the venue; the artist has needs, and the promoter. I noticed in the scripts there was a discussion around Leonard Cohen. Leonard Cohen was in small venues, and many tickets were held back by the artist himself. We had very few tickets available to sell.
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: If this legislation is passed, what would stop a primary ticket seller from diverting tickets—if he was able to divert tickets, as is supposed by the government—to another secondary seller? If TicketsNow no longer exists, what would stop a primary ticket seller from diverting tickets to, say, StubHub?
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: So if the government is suggesting that this diversion of tickets is taking place, this bill would do nothing to stop it from taking place with some other reseller? This bill would have no purpose.
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: If a primary ticket seller like Ticketmaster were to divert tickets to its secondary site, what would be the intentional consequences of that for your business? Would you not be breaking an agreement with your clients?
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: If I were the venue and I thought that my primary ticket seller was diverting tickets, in essence, that primary ticket seller would be taking money out of my pocket. Do I have that right?
Mrs. Christine Elliott: Okay. Thank you very much today for appearing today. You’ve really clarified a lot of issues for us. Have you had a chance to sit down and speak with the Attorney General’s office about your, in my view, very legitimate concerns with respect to this bill?
Mr. Tom Worrall: What it is is a resale marketplace. Think of the Toronto Star: You go to the Toronto Star classified ads and you list your event for sale, your tickets for sale—or your furniture or whatever else you’re selling.
Mr. Peter Kormos: I don’t know if you folks read Hansard or not. You know I’m not a fan of the government and you know I’m not fan of this legislation, but it seems to me that there was reference made to a situation down in New Jersey—
Mr. Peter Kormos: No, it doesn’t say that. It says that that related company cannot act as a reseller. Do you understand what I’m saying? Help me. It’s early in the morning. As I say, I’m from Welland. Do you know where Welland is? It’s a small industrial town down in Niagara.
Mr. Peter Kormos: No, because it’s been clear in the debate that any number of other identified host websites, which are simply conduits, media, a medium for people who want to sell their tickets, are not affected, are not impacted. In fact, the suggestion has been that it’s all about Ticketmaster and TicketsNow. Fair enough. I find that in and of itself peculiar. But if TicketsNow is merely a host site, it’s not a reseller. So then you could care less whether this bill passes.
Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield: First of all, I’d like to clarify for the committee. In fact, Omar met with Ticketmaster several times prior to and during the introduction of this bill, so there were discussions that were going on. Secondly, the clarification vis-à-vis the agreement with New Jersey would certainly help to clarify the situation. I thank Mr. Kormos; I think he’s identified this well.
I just wanted to state that this bill applies to any related primary and secondary ticket sellers. It’s not specific to Ticketmaster; it’s specific to any of those. I just want those clarifications for the committee.
Just to be clear, TicketsNow gets its tickets from the owner of the ticket. That could be the sports team, venue or entertainer. So they’re going to give you some, and they’re going to give them some?
Mr. Tom Worrall: —and they in turn list it for sale on the TicketsNow site. They don’t give it to them; they list it for sale. That’s very important. If they give it to them, then they own the ticket.
Mr. Bill Mauro: So you’re saying the tickets get sold by the primary ticket seller, in this example, we’re going to use you, and you sell it. I buy a ticket from Ticketmaster, then I decide I’m going to make a few bucks on my ticket. I give it to TicketsNow, and they resell the ticket.
Mr. Tom Worrall: I just want to go back to your statement that we had discussions with the AG’s office prior to the bill being introduced. We did. We had meetings, and they had nothing to do with this bill, nothing to do with the language in the bill or the introduction of this bill.
Mr. Bill Mauro: I just want to read your last page, when you were recapping. I’m going to read what you said: “As I understand it, the Attorney General’s intent is to prevent a primary seller from withholding tickets and diverting tickets to be sold at a higher price for profit on a resale site that it also owns. As I’ve stated, this can’t and doesn’t happen. So Ticketmaster, a legal and legitimate business, is being punished for something it doesn’t do.”
Mr. Tom Worrall: The way we read the language, it’s if we’re related. If we’re related, then we can’t act as a resale marketplace. If the bill specifically says that we cannot divert tickets to a resale site, we’re great with that. We’re good with that. However, the act has no value, because there’s no purpose to it. Nobody does that. No primary agency—
Mr. Tom Worrall: There’s no primary agency in the entire world that I’m aware of that diverts tickets to a secondary market, meaning this bill has no value. But there is an opportunity, if you want to add language into this bill, for consumer protection. We have ideas on how to do that.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Okay, thank you for your presentation, Mr. Worrall, and thank you as well, Ms. Hall, for being present. We have one more presenter we want to make sure we fit in before 10:30. Thank you.
I want to thank the committee for the opportunity to be here this morning to speak to you. My name is Cyril Leeder. I’m the president of Senators Sports and Entertainment, and along with owning the Ottawa Senators, we also own Scotiabank Place, which is the largest indoor arena in the province. Owning and operating both an NHL team and a major facility led us, in 2003, to form our own ticketing company, CapitalTickets.ca. Capital Tickets has now grown to a point where we sell more than two million tickets each year. It makes us Ontario’s second-largest ticket operator, next to Ticketmaster.
As the committee full well knows, the Ticket Speculation Act was created in the 1960s, and there have been very few changes to that act since then. We would submit to this committee that based on our observation, the act today, in 2010, is actually harming those whom it was originally designed to assist and protect, mainly consumers, legitimate business operators like ourselves, and the event rights holders and promoters: the entertainment acts and sports teams.
That being said, we don’t have any issue with the current amendment to Bill 172. As you just debated, it really doesn’t affect us. We don’t withhold tickets to send to a resale site. I would agree with Tom; I don’t think anybody withholds tickets to divert them to a resale site. I’ll tell you a bit later in the presentation what is happening in the industry and how tickets do end up on these resale sites.
We would strongly encourage the government to entirely abolish the Ticket Speculation Act. That might seem like a bold legislative move, but consider what’s happening everywhere else in North America, and in Canada as well. Alberta recently took the same steps to abolish their version of the Ticket Speculation Act, and there are only two remaining provinces in Canada that actually have legislation governing tickets: Ontario and Manitoba.
If the Ticket Speculation Act was abolished entirely, the market and the industry would tell us how to regulate ourselves, and it would allow us to position each other as authorized and designated resellers. Consumers would know that one reseller was officially authorized to act on behalf of the designated team or event. That’s exactly the decision that the province of British Columbia took last year for the Winter Olympics. There’s no ticket speculation act or law in that province. They allowed one authorized reseller to be in charge of reselling tickets for the Olympics. It was a very successful venture. It helped consumers. You knew if you went to that site, you had an authentic, real ticket. They processed more than 10,000 tickets on that site.
There were a number of people who bought from unauthorized sites. Some of those tickets ended up being valid, but many of them were not. There was a lot of fraud associated with that event. If they’d have bought on the authorized resale site, they would have not had an issue.
I think you should also understand, for the committee’s benefit, that ticket reselling, the resale of tickets after they’ve been sold once, is the fastest-growing component of the ticket marketplace now in North America. The basic reason for this is the advancement of technology. Anybody who has a computer or access to the Internet is now a ticket reseller. Millions of tickets are bought and resold annually in North America, and there are literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of dot-coms and dot-ca businesses that are only in the business of reselling tickets. That’s all they do. We’ve provided you with a list of the top 20 of those companies. You can go on those sites and buy tickets to just about any event today.
No one knows for sure how many unofficial, unauthorized or illegal tickets are resold each year in Ontario, but I think the quantum is important for you to understand. This week, we had one of our staff members check in to that and do a little research. They searched just one of the resale sites and checked for just one team. They checked StubHub, which is one of the bigger sites, for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It might surprise you, but there were 14,000 tickets for sale for this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs on StubHub alone. That’s resale of tickets for the Leafs.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: What I really want to submit to the committee, the key point, is that the only organizations that are now respecting the Ticket Speculation Act in Ontario are the legitimate operators, like the Ottawa Senators and Capital Tickets. We’re the only ones that don’t resell tickets at above face value. We’re not doing that; everybody else is.
We have our own resale site, to allow our season seat-holders who can’t get to games to resell their tickets, but we have to sell them at face value. Most of them choose not to use our site. They’ll go somewhere else because they can sell them for more.
There’s no enforcement of the act. Therefore, we’re just driving people to illegal sites. That has a bunch of problems. Some of them are not valid tickets, so we get lots of fraud at games. From the province’s point of view, there are significant tax revenues that are not being captured. They’re being resold, and those monies are going elsewhere.
For just about every Senators game and for every major concert and event that we host, we have customers arriving at our door with fraudulent tickets. As an example, for three of the big shows we had this summer—Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, the Jonas Brothers—we had more than 500 fraudulent tickets. Again, I have a copy in the submission of a newspaper article from the Ottawa Citizen about some of the problems.
Many of the online resellers will provide a guarantee. They’ll say, “We’ll guarantee that these tickets are good.” The guarantee only says, “If you can’t get in, we’ll give you back your money.” Try telling that to the mothers and children who were in our lobby for these concerts, crying because they couldn’t get in. They didn’t want their money back. They just wanted to get into the show. Generally, we let them in, if we have room, but for big, sold-out shows, if it’s entirely sold out, there’s just no place to put these people, and we end up having to turn them away. I think misguided and misinformed consumers are understandably confused and frustrated.
Another issue: If you go to the most popular Internet search engines and Google “Ottawa Senators tickets” or “Toronto Maple Leaf tickets,” you won’t get our site. The Ottawa Senators or Maple Leaf Sports won’t come up first. Three ticket resellers will be the first three sites that would come up.
So, again, every game we have people coming to us and saying, “How come I paid $75 for this ticket and the guy beside me paid $50?” They’ve bought the tickets on a resale site and they don’t even know it. They just Googled our name, clicked the first button, found the tickets, paid for them, showed up and don’t understand why they end up paying a premium on the tickets.
These changes to the way tickets are bought and sold really, like I said, come about because of the rapid advancement of technology. The fact that the Ticket Speculation Act doesn’t properly serve those who it was designed to protect in the 1960s shouldn’t really be a surprise. There have been really no major changes to it since the 1960s. Again, we would submit to this committee and the government of Ontario that we should abolish that act in its entirety. We’d be much better served and would have much better consumer protection without the act. All we’re doing now is providing a safe haven for the resellers to do what they want to do without regard for the consumers.
If you level the playing field with legitimate operators, we’ll manage the reselling of our tickets and we’ll do a good job at it. We’ll take care of the consumers. They’re our customers. No one has more of an investment in those people than the teams and the buildings and the events themselves.
You should be collecting tax revenue on the resale of tickets. As I said, it’s the fastest-growing area of the ticket business in North America, and billions of dollars each year in North America are being resold. It’s billions. It’s not small change; it’s a lot of money.
Every policy or legislative issue that comes to this committee I know is important. We recognize that. But I’d like to underscore the fact that this piece of outdated and poorly enforced legislation affects millions of ticket purchasers each year, almost all of whom are Ontarians. It really affects our own people and our own constituents right here in the province.
We deserve good protection from the government and from this type of legislation. As I said, allowing the legitimate operators to authorize or own resellers will be the best way to provide consumer protection going forward.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: They were always doing it. I would submit that season seat holders were always reselling tickets before. It was just to a friend or somebody they know. Now they’re doing it online for profit.
Mr. Peter Kormos: Yes, it is. And what that means is that websites, even if they’re not resellers in and of themselves, that allow people to resell at a price higher than face value are aiding and abetting an offence.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: No. Some of them are trying to be legitimate, and they operate, as I say, all throughout North America. I’d say 90% of the jurisdictions allow the resale of tickets, because there’s just no way to enforce it or patrol it any longer.
Mr. Peter Kormos: As a socialist, I, quite frankly, couldn’t care less if people want to resell hockey game tickets in a bourse. Do you understand what I’m saying? That’s a private transaction. It’s happening right now down at the TSE, for Pete’s sake, at a far more criminal level than ever happened outside Maple Leaf Gardens.
Chair, the Attorney General should probably get a copy of this Hansard, because Ticketmaster is here. Again, I acknowledge that Ticketmaster is, if they are what they say they are, removed from the ambit or scope of the legislation. But they are, by virtue of their TicketsNow, aiding and abetting offences under the Ticket Speculation Act. That’s a very serious matter. We don’t need the amendments to prosecute TicketsNow. If they’re aiding and abetting a violation of the Ticket Speculation Act as it now stands, we don’t need the amendment at all. People should be getting arrested, prosecuted, sent to jail—no, they can only be fined.
I think it would be reasonable to say that this is a first approach. I don’t think the government would be shutting down any further discussions that you have identified. It’s a good start on how we can continue to improve, and you certainly identified some of those ways in which to do it. Hopefully, you will continue to discuss with the Attorney General, from your perspective, how we can continue to improve this act.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: We’ve had a number of discussions with the Attorney General’s office and Omar, and they’ve been very helpful and respectful. I think we have a good dialogue going there, and we will continue that.
Mr. Mike Colle: What’s been computerized is the scalpers. We’ve got computerized scalping right now. That’s what’s been happening at the Leafs games since the 1950s. Scalpers would even buy season’s tickets and then stand out in front of Maple Leaf Gardens, scalping them. I’m sure scalpers are still buying Leafs tickets, but instead of standing in the cold in front of the Gardens, they’re doing it by computer in a more corporate way. It’s corporate scalping, basically.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: I think there are a number of people who solely buy the tickets to resell them all, but the vast majority of tickets being resold are by fans who, as the member pointed out, can’t get to every game. They can’t get to 41 home games, so they maybe get to 25 and they resell 16.
Mr. Mike Colle: You say that abolishing the Ticket Speculation Act would help you and other legitimate first-hand sellers of concert or hockey tickets. Could you just explain to me how abolishing the speculation act would be better for the consumer and better for legitimate sellers of tickets?
Mr. Cyril Leeder: We have a site where we resell tickets now, and it’s called Senators TicketExchange. But we only do about 2,000 tickets a year on that site, because people are going elsewhere. So if we were able to have the same rules apply to us, they would sell their tickets on our site because they’d know that it’s a legitimate site and we can authenticate the ticket. We can not only guarantee their money, we can guarantee they’ll get access when they buy from that site. We do that now, but we don’t get the business because they’re reselling, and for more money, on other sites.
The commercial reality is, they’ll get more dollars if they sell somewhere else, because they’re just circumventing the Ticket Speculation Act. Our site doesn’t; ours respects the existing legislation. But it puts handcuffs on us, and the consumers are choosing to go somewhere else to sell their tickets. Therefore, the buyers are going somewhere else. The buyers are the ones you want to protect.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: I’ve been to the Olympics, and I bought on the authenticated site because I didn’t want my family to show up at the venue and not get in. I went to the authenticated, authorized site, bought the tickets, and was happy to have a site that I knew was endorsed by the venue. In that case, the province actually endorsed it because it was a provincial event.
I’m from eastern Ontario, and I remember quite vividly the Senators franchise beginning. It certainly wasn’t uncommon in small-town eastern Ontario to have a group of 15 or 16 people, buddies in the beer league, people who worked together, buy some season tickets and split them up. It’s not uncommon in a small community to have a pair of Sens tickets floating around, and if you can buy them, you buy them.
You made some great points about Google. Even though the Capital Tickets site has been in operation for such a long time—and I’ve bought many a Senators ticket off that site—there still is that confusion. I have always been surprised when I’ve gone to TicketExchange at how few tickets are actually offered on that site compared to any other site. It’s extremely strange.
I’m very interested in what you said about the two provinces, ourselves and Manitoba, that have legislation. I’m wondering if you can enlighten us as to how the industry has regulated itself in those other provinces that don’t have legislation.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: Again, I think it’s letting the market forces manage themselves. In our case, we know that we would be able to authorize somebody to be an official authenticated reseller, and you know that when you buy a ticket it’s going to get you into the venue. I’m speaking from what I know has happened in British Columbia.
I know Alberta is hosting the world juniors next year. They’ve got some big events coming. They’re doing the same thing. They’ve got the Grey Cup there this weekend. They’re reselling tickets on authenticated sites.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: That’s the key. It’s just levelling the playing field and allowing, in our case, the hockey team to designate somebody. It might not be us. Senators TicketExchange is run by Ticketmaster. It’s a Ticketmaster site. They have technology there that helps people put their bar codes on and exchange them. It’s not our own technology.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: That was a case where tickets were sold at a discount, because they were bought in big packages, really, to get access to the big games. It was a 31-game package, so people resold games they couldn’t get to. That allowed the people in Ottawa who didn’t have packages to go to the odd game here or there that they wanted to go to. As I said, we would have done 10,000 tickets for just that one event.
Mr. Cyril Leeder: It talks about withholding tickets for the purposes of resale. That was the subtle change that was made to the amendment. We don’t withhold tickets. Everything goes on sale, somebody buys it, and then it ends up on a resale site. So it doesn’t get—
Mr. Peter Kormos: On a point of order, Chair: What is going on here? This has happened before in these committees. Somebody has been advised of an amendment that the government’s going to propose or put before this committee before anybody else has?
Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield: If I may, Chair, on the point of order, it is not the formal amendment before us. There was a discussion that took place. Just as the previous folks had an opportunity to speak to the Attorney General, so did this particular deputant. There is nothing that is here. The deputant cannot propose the amendment. If there’s something coming forward, it will come forward next week. There are discussions that go on amongst all deputants that come forward.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I understand that, so I’m going to ask the following based on the point of order: Would the presenter be willing to table that present amendment that you have to this committee?
“For the purposes of subsections (1) and (2), a primary seller and secondary seller are related if the relationship between them, whether corporate, contractual or otherwise, results, directly or indirectly, in an incentive for the primary seller to withhold tickets for sale by the primary seller so that they can be sold by, through or with the assistance of the secondary seller instead.”
So the subtle change there really is, if you’re going to withhold tickets—which is what this discussion about this issue in New Jersey was, which is how this really came about—for the purposes of giving them to someone else, that’s not a problem for most of us, and certainly not for us.
Mr. Peter Kormos: Chair, I’m calling upon you to call a subcommittee meeting. We have to discuss returning to the issue of addressing this matter with witnesses. Quite frankly, one of the issues that I’ll raise at subcommittee is that Ticketmaster be asked to come back and respond to the information we’ve received now.
Mr. Ted Chudleigh: Thank you very much for coming, Mr. Leeder. We appreciate it. Thank you particularly for dropping a bombshell. It made quite an impression. You had a big win here today. My apologies that you didn’t have a big win last night. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Just for the committee’s information: As per the order of the House, proposed amendments are to be filed with the committee clerk by 5 p.m. on Monday. That’s next Monday, November 29, 2010, and that’s a hard deadline.
Secondly, per order of this House, the committee will meet for the purpose of clause-by-clause consideration of this bill on Wednesday, December 1, and Thursday, December 2, 2010. We have legislative counsel working on this as well.
Mr. Peter Kormos: Chair, look, it’s obvious. I don’t know whether Ticketmaster has been blindsided by this information or not. They ought to have an opportunity to address what appears to be at least the contemplation by the government of an amendment in the manner that’s been related to us by Mr. Leeder.
It’s important—it’s imperative—that this committee hear from Ticketmaster about what this amendment might mean to them and might mean to their submission with respect to the proposed amendment, that is to say, the legislation itself.
Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield: —as a moot point, because one deputant chose to, another didn’t. They both had the same opportunity. The rules are there for everyone, so I see no reason for this committee to meet again this afternoon.