Ticket Broker Claims Hollywood's Gated Events Amount to an Antitrust Conspiracy

Craig Banaszewski files counterclaims in litigation with Disney, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros. and Sony.

Is it a problem there's not enough of Craig Banaszewki in Hollywood?

Banaszewski is the infamous ticket broker who keeps getting sued for offering access to Hollywood's most exclusive events. Most recently, Disney, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros. and Sony teamed up to file a lawsuit against him for advertising packages to events like the Radio Disney Music Awards; premieres of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Transcendence and Ghostbusters; and tapings for shows including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live and The Big Bang Theory.

Now comes the response — and it's a doozy.

In counterclaims filed on Monday (see here), Banaszewski and his Hollywood Entertainment Group allege there's some sort of antitrust conspiracy at hand on the part of the film majors with respect to their glitzy events.

Banaszewski's court papers are bereft of the kind of details supporting claims under the Sherman Antitrust Act that one would expect to see. There's not much about a collusive agreement among studios, for example, nor word on whether ticket broker services constitute a cognizable relevant product market.

But in a stab toward showing an unreasonable restraint on trade, Banaszewski alleges the studios haven't sued any of his competitors nor done much to prevent studio executives, talent agents and talent from selling their tickets to private events. His court papers also state there's no law against ticket selling, that studios hype these events for publicity, and — most damning of all — sometimes tickets to premieres are auctioned off for charity.

Perhaps most hilariously is the damage alleged if the studios are allowed to monopolize their private events:

"a. Competition in the relevant product and geographic markets will be eliminated or substantially lessened."

"b. Actual and future competition between Counter-Claimants and Counter-Defendants and between these companies in the sale and support in the relevant geographic markets will be eliminated or substantially lessened."

"c. Prices for the relevant product in the relevant markets will likely increase to levels above those that would prevail absent Counter-Defendants’ commercially restraining active, attempt to monopolize the market."

"d. Consumers will continue to pay taxes on overinflated sweepstakes values or will overpay in an auction to attend the events."

So there you have it: Ticket brokers like Banaszewski cause price deflation. Strike that. Ticket broker Banaszewski causes price deflation.