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FanFair Alliance hopes to take on the ticket touts

By | Published on Friday 15 July 2016


A new alliance set up to campaign against online ticket touting was launched in London yesterday, with artist managers leading the charge.

Of course secondary ticketing has been controversial ever since the resale of tickets via online auction sites started to become popular in the early 2000s, and there have been various efforts to combat and restrict the practice over the years, especially in the US and the UK. Though between the moments of high volume protest from the music community, consumer rights groups and some politicians, the secondary ticketing sector has only grown, with the evolution of numerous websites designed specifically for the resale of tickets.

In the UK, however, secondary ticketing became a real talking point once again when MPs Mike Weatherley and Sharon Hodgson managed to sneak some regulation of online touting into last year’s Consumer Rights Act. That legislation also obliged the government to instigate a new review of secondary ticketing – the recently published Waterson Report – which seemed to give those in the music community opposed to online touting new momentum, the result of which is the FanFair Alliance.

With the backing of over 40 individuals and companies from across the music community, as well as an assortment of trade bodies representing artists, songwriters, labels, managers, producers and independent promoters and venues, the new campaign has four key objectives on its agenda in a bid to constrain the resale of tickets to in demand shows at considerable mark-ups.

The first two relate to the extra regulations added by the aforementioned Consumer Rights Act, which force sellers to provide information on the face value, seating arrangements and any limitations on the ticket being sold. FanFair cites both its own and Which? research that says these new rules are being frequently ignored on the secondary ticketing sites.

FanFair is firstly calling on those sites – so the likes of Viagogo, eBay’s StubHub and Live Nation’s Seatwave and GetMeIn – to take responsibility for enforcing these rules. And secondly, the group backs one of the recommendations made by Professor Michael Waterson in his report: that a system be put in place by National Trading Standards to enforce the secondary ticketing laws.

FanFair’s third objective is to extend secondary ticketing regulation, in particular pushing ahead with the one rule Weatherley and Hodgson failed to get through Parliament: forcing sellers on secondary sites to reveal their identity. Says FanFair: “This lack of transparency only benefits touts, and we believe their identities should be made clear to buyers. This is already a condition of existing legislation such as the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 – and is standard practice on true online markets such as eBay and Amazon Marketplace”.

The final objective relates to the so called bots that touts use to buy up high numbers of tickets when they first go on sale. New York State, which has also sought to more tightly regulate secondary ticketing of late, has cracked down on such technologies, and FanFair says that using such bots should become a criminal offence here too. “Government should clarify that such actions are breaking the Computer Misuse Act” says FanFair in its manifesto, “and attach appropriate penalties”.

Launching the campaign, which has its own website and plans to publish a number of educational guides for music businesses and fans, one of the managers spearheading the initiative, Wildlife Entertainment’s Ian McAndrew, said: “The aim of the FanFair Alliance is to take a unified stand against rampant profiteering in the secondary ticketing market. I am delighted we are launching with such a groundswell of support and I hope more will come onboard and join us”.

He went on: “By sharing knowledge, embracing progressive technology and enforcing consumer legislation, we can take significant strides in reducing a multi-million pound touting industry that impacts on music fans and the wider music economy. FanFair aims to take a pragmatic approach. That is why we are also urging government to take measures and commit resources to enforce existing legislation. With that in place, we can seriously disrupt the more egregious touts and help get more face value tickets into the hands of fans”.

Concluding with a rally call, he noted: “But that support is crucial. Otherwise fans will continue to be ripped off and we in the industry will continue to fight an uphill battle”.

Throwing his group’s backing behind the campaign, Paul Reed from the Association Of Independent Festivals added: “AIF fully supports the launch of the FanFair Alliance. We are calling on the government to act and want to see a Consumer Rights Act that is best fit and protects music fans, with the law on ticket re-sales actually enforced. All involved in the industry should strive to work together to eliminate damaging and unlawful practices, improve consumer education and ensure transparency and fairness for fans”.

Following the launch, the aforementioned Sharon Hodgson MP also welcomed the initiative, telling reporters: “For too long fans have been ripped off by ticket touts and the government have continually failed to offer support to fans to put them first, through ensuring legislation is properly implemented and has the teeth to protect fans from the abuses seen in the secondary market”.

She continued: “The launch of FanFair Alliance so soon after the publication of the Waterson Review which called on the government to do more in this area, is welcome news and will provide fans with a way to voice their concerns with the secondary market. I hope many fans will sign up to this campaign by visiting their website. I look forward to working closely with FanFair Alliance to ensure Parliament can help voice the concerns of fans with government and in order that fans are put first once and for all”.

There is more about the campaign at Premium subscribers will be able to check out a CMU Trends report reviewing recent developments in the secondary ticketing debate, and the arguments on both sides, on Monday. To become a premium subscriber for just £5 a month click here.

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