Live Nation, StubHub Launch Groups Touting Consumer Interest Focus Amid 
Image Battle

Dave Hogan/Getty Images

The competitors have created the populist Fans First Coalition and the Fan
Freedom Project with the help of Washington public relations firms.

NEW YORK - Amid heated competition and consumer complaints about ticket
 scalping, live event and ticketing giant Live Nation Entertainment and 
ticket reseller StubHub, part of eBay, have launched nonprofit groups to
 represent consumer interests as part of a public relations battle, the New
 York Times reported Thursday.

StubHub attracts many brokers, or professional scalpers, which tend to be
u npopular, and Ticketmaster has long been criticized for its ticket
 surcharges, it pointed out.

The Fans First Coalition was unveiled this week with a mission of protecting 
consumers from predatory ticket scalpers and with support from the likes of 
R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Maroon 5 and Jennifer Hudson, according to the
 paper. But it is financed by Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, and has
 grown out of a lobbying fight with StubHub over control of the secondary
 ticketing market, which is worth billions of dollars, the Times said.

StubHub's similar consumer outreach group is called Fan Freedom Project.

Neither company is represented on the groups' boards, but they do leave 
their fingerprints, according to the paper. Of the 35 artists listed among 
the Live Nation group's members, at least 21 are managed by the company and 
its affiliates, it said.

The organizations, which both call for a ban on so-called bots, or computer
programs that buy the best tickets for resale, were also launched with the
help of Washington public relations firms. While unusual for the
entertainment industry, the Times said in other fields the creation of
 populist nonprofits is a common practice.

“This is a classic,” said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight 
Foundation, which monitors lobbying, told the paper. "The campaigns present
 them as ground-up activities, but they are really nothing more than fronts 
for particular interests.”

Nathan Hubbard, Live Nation’s CEO for ticketing and head of Ticketmaster,
 acknowledged that the company supports the Fans First Coalition. “This 
company hasn’t focused on the fan, and the industry as a whole hasn’t 
focused on the fan,” he told the Times. “And as a result we have a fan
experience problem across the board. Everything you’ve seen us do publicly,
we’ve been pushing for how to re-orient the industry on what’s right for the