An ongoing investigative report on ticketing practices from Nashville's NewsChannel 5 has created a stir, and promoter Louis Messina, president of TMG/AEG Live wants to clarify comments he made in a segment that aired last night regarding Ticketmaster Entertainment.

As it aired, Messina, promoter of tours by Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, and others, told NewsChannel 5 reporter Phil Williams that he believes Ticketmaster is involved in moving tickets into the secondary market. "Is Ticketmaster standing at the front of the line grabbing tickets?" Williams asked. "Ticketmaster has all of the tickets," Messina answered. "They don't have to stand at the front of the line.

"Are they [Ticketmaster] feeding their own companies?," Messina asked rhetorically in the report. "If you owned a company... I would think the answer is yes." Asked if he suspected this indeed was occurring, Messina said, "yeah, of course I do. How could you not?"

But Messina tells Billboard.biz that the televised portion of the segment was misleading because of what it did not include. "The part [Williams] failed to mention was how I said when [Ticketmaster CEO] Irving [Azoff] got involved, he started trying to clean all this up," Messina says, and adds that what he was referring to in the "feeding" comment was the much-publicized incident where Bruce Springsteen tickets buyers in New Jersey were redirected to Ticketmaster's secondary site TicketsNow (Billboard.biz, Feb. 4). "When I talked about feeding the company, it was totally in reference to the Springsteen thing, and I also said since Irving got involved he's been cleaning this up. I have nothing but respect for Irving. The reason why Irving is the way he is is because he's about artist and fans first. He realizes that without people buying tickets and without the artists, we have no business."

How tickets end up on the secondary market has come under increased scrutiny in light of high-profile incidents as with Springsteen, drawing mainstream media attention such as NewsChannel 5's reporting on ticketing for Keith Urban and Taylor Swift. The spotlight is brighter than ever on this sector of the business as the Department Of Justice continues to weigh approval of a proposed merger of Ticketmaster and concert promotion giant Live Nation.

Much of the focus of the NewsChannel 5 report, and others, has been on the lack of tickets that are actually available for public sale after industry holds and presales, both of which are controlled by the artist, promoter, and venue. "The part everybody misses is presales are to the general public," says Messina. "Presales are usually for people who bought tickets to past concerts, radio stations, fan clubs and, in Taylor Swift's case, it costs nothing to join her fan club, you just buy tickets through taylorswift.com. In today's world where advertising is so expensive, if I can sell every show out in a presale without having to spend advertising money, I will."

As for ticket "holds," Messina confirms that's "totally a promoter and venue call. We dictate that. They can include production holds, artist holds, sponsor holds, building holds, promotion holds, record company holds, fan club holds, media holds. It's Ticketmaster's system and they are a service provider."

Still, there is no doubt that some of these ticket holds end up on the secondary market. "This system is so wired, no matter what everything winds up on the secondary ticket market," Messina says.

Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff tells Billboard.biz, "This reporter had some bone to pick with Ticketmaster. It's old news with the Springsteen tickets. TicketsNow is a company that runs separately from Ticketmaster, there are no links, despite the fact that [secondary site] StubHub gets linked to Major League Baseball and other people. There are no pre-listings [of tickets before a show goes onsale], and it is our policy not to allow people to list that don't actually have the tickets, to the best of our ability. TicketsNow operates to higher industry consumer standards than any other company in the business. Mr. Messina had his facts completely wrong, and I'm glad he's come forward to clear it up. Louis' an excellent promoter, we've done business for 30 years, and we will continue to do business with him."

Azoff called a lawsuit cited in the NewsChannel 5 report from New Jersey ticket broker Chuck Lombardo that charges Ticketmaster management division Front Line directly sold tickets on the secondary market "frivolous." Asked directly if Ticketmaster or any of its affiliates funnel tickets into the secondary market before public on sale, Azoff says, "No, not to my knowledge."