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Key players in music, sport and theatre call on Government to back secondary ticketing regulations as Consumer Rights Bill heads back to the Commons

By | Published on Monday 12 January 2015

Houses Of Parliament

85 individuals, companies and organisations yesterday gave their backing to an open letter in the Independent On Sunday calling on the Government to support amendments made to the Consumer Rights Bill last year that would introduce new regulations regarding secondary ticketing in the UK.

As previously reported, amendments were made to the Consumer Rights Bill in the House Of Lords last November based on proposals made earlier in the year by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse. The new rules would force people reselling tickets via online resale sites to include more information about the tickets being sold (seats, restrictions, risks of touted ticket being cancelled) and who is doing the selling.

Those who oppose the rampant resale of tickets for profit online, which include many in the artist and live music community, hope that the new rules will make it easier for fans and the industry to see who the prolific touts are, and will discourage artists, managers and promoters from adopting a ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ approach and secretly touting tickets to their own events.

If touts were forced to publish ticket or seat numbers on resale sites it would also make it easier for promoters to cancel touted tickets, something they are usually allowed to do under the terms and conditions of the original ticket sold, but rarely go through with because of the hassle involved in working out what tickets have been touted. If touted tickets were cancelled much more frequently, consumers would be less likely to use resale services.

The companies which operate secondary ticketing sites – including the likes of Live Nation’s Ticketmaster, which has both primary and secondary operations – generally oppose the recommendations made by the APPG on Ticket Abuse. They argue that forcing legit resale sites in the UK to instigate such regulations will push the touts onto sites outside the jurisdiction of the British courts, where consumers will not get the protections they are provided by domestic resale operations, especially against fraud.

But in the House Of Lords those arguments were rejected when the secondary ticketing rules were added to the new consumer rights legislation. However, even though there is some cross-party support for the new touting regulations, it’s always been known that the Government itself is not keen, and would therefore push for the amendments to be rejected when the bill returns to the House Of Commons, where Government normally swings the vote.

And that is due to happen later today, hence the open letter yesterday, organised by the APPG on Ticket Abuse, and backed by UK Music, the Musicians’ Union, the Featured Artists Coalition, the Music Managers Forum, the Association Of Independent Festivals, long-term vocal-touting-opponent Harvey Goldsmith, and managers and agents representing the likes of Iron Maiden, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead and One Direction. A number of organisations representing the sports and theatre industries also backed the call.

Commenting on the open letter and today’s Commons debate on the Consumer Rights Bill, Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, a long-time campaigner on this issue and co-Chair of the ticketing APPG, told reporters: “This letter shows the real consensus in the live event industry that action needs to be taken to better protect consumers from the worst effects of touting, as well as the real frustration that the Government refuse to take that action. Ministers need to take this opportunity to put fans first, and to finally clean up a murky market”.

Meanwhile the other co-Chair of the APPG, Conservative MP Mike Weatherley, added: “The secondary ticketing market is a cash cow for a select few and, by and large, bad for music fans. The procurement of tickets by resellers takes place on an industrial scale as soon as an event opens its box office, denying fans the opportunity to buy tickets at their face value. Those arguing against greater transparency are trying to shield from fans the source of the tickets or circumvent individual venues restrictions on reselling tickets. There is a large amount of criminal activity around fake tickets, which is fuelled by extortionate prices, that can leave fans massively disappointed and out of pocket. This has to stop”.

Read the open letter in full here.