The summer concert tours for the major arenas are being announced and the season promises to have some heavy acts: Madonna, Kenny Chesney with Tim McGraw, etc.

Even if you purchase tickets the second they become available on-line, don't expect front row seats. Or even in the second, third, or fourth row.

We're not talking about smaller venues like Penn's Peak or the Mauch Chunk Opera House. We're referring to the major arenas.

What happens is that somehow the best seats in the house either are designated to corporate sponsors, kept for venue officials, retained by the performers for their personal distribution, or, in too frequent occurrences, grabbed by scalpers who sell them for several times their market value.

Within minutes after tickets go on sale to the public, you can find tickets for the best seats from third-party sources on-line at sky-high prices. Yet, if you go on the ticket purchase site yourself, often you will only high priced tickets in row 50 or nose-bleed section tickets from which to choose.

How do the scalpers get the best seats? Why doesn't the public have a fair shot at the better spots in the arena?

Remember the olden days when people would camp out at arenas for days before tickets went on sale for a particular event just to get the best seats? Even if you're first at the venue box office when tickets go on sale, you probably won't have the best seats.

Many states have laws against scalping, but the rules are hard to enforce. The scalping is done over state lines.

Of course, even some venues which keep the best seats for their own personnel are also treating the buying public unfairly.

Because concert ticket-buying has become a virtual monopoly for major shows, and because there is such cloudiness occurring in ticket sales, it's time there are federal laws enacted to control the sales. Monopolies aren't supposed to exist in business, but they do with concert ticket sales.

Just try to get the best seats for the mega concerts.

One of the things some venues do now is allow concert goers to bid for the front row or best seats. In other words, they're selling these seats without a set price, doing themselves what scalpers generally do. Should this be permitted?

Even some fairs keep the better seats for directors instead of releasing them to the public.

Federal rules could make for some sweet music for concert goers. Meanwhile, the general public willing to spend their hard-earned dollars to see their favorite stars on stage just have to settle for so-so seats unless they're willing to pay the scalpers' prices.

Or, attend a concert at a smaller venue where maybe you won't see the megastars, but you'll have a fair chance at getting good seats.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com