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Melvin Benn calls for action on secondary ticketing

By | Published on Wednesday 4 July 2012

Melvin Benn

Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn has done his bit to keep the secondary ticketing debate alive by writing a polemic for The Independent calling on the government to introduce regulations for touting across all forms of entertainment, and not just football, where ticket reselling is illegal, and the London 2012 Games, where touting has been outlawed via special Olympics legislation.

Benn writes: “The government brushed off concerns [about secondary ticketing] by claiming that ticket touts are an irritant from which people can walk away. Yet this ignores the fact that the longer the secondary ticket market stays unregulated, the more we’ll see the emergence of a two-speed economy in the arts and culture”.

“Here at Festival Republic we organise large-scale festivals such as Latitude, Reading and Leeds. Our whole business is geared around providing thousands of people with the opportunity to see their favourite artists and take in a selection of entertainment from across the arts, all for one ticket price that we believe is fair and affordable. I don’t, unlike ticket touts, want to see ordinary people priced out of going to see concerts, plays or matches in a time of austerity”.

“I also believe it’s very unfair that the profits made on secondary ticket sales go not to the organisations that take on the risk of mounting cultural events like Latitude, which brings together hundreds of bands, theatre companies, writers and artists, nor to the charities we work with. Instead, they go straight into the pockets of touts, who in turn then pay no tax on their profits”.

Noting that some, including Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, have suggested there are technical solutions to secondary ticketing that would be more effective than new touting regulations, Benn argues that forcing gig goers to provide ever increasing amounts of ID, to prove they were the original buyer of a face-value ticket, is not a welcome route to go.

He concludes: “The time has come for the secondary market to be regulated, and a 10% profit cap to go on the resale of tickets as called for by Sharon Hodgson MP”. As previously reported, Hodgson has been campaigning on this issue in parliament for some time, and her case was aided earlier this year when the Channel 4 programme ‘Dispatches’ ran an expose into the corporate end of the secondary ticketing market.

As also previously reported, that documentary accused some of the companies that claim to only provide the technology to help others to resell tickets online, of actually buying up large amounts of tickets to in-demand events themselves – sometimes in partnership with the promoters of said events – and then selling them on at a large mark up to fans who missed out on standard price tickets when they first went on sale. Those promoters involved in such practices claimed they only formed partnerships with ticket tout companies because the government failed to curtail the growth of ticket reselling.