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Secondary ticketing to be discussed in parliament

By | Published on Friday 21 January 2011

Secondary Ticketing

The good old issue of secondary ticketing – or ticketing touting if you prefer – will be discussed in parliament again later today as a private members bill on the issue put forward by Labour MP Sharon Hodgson last year gets its second reading in the House Of Commons.

As much previously reported, the growth of ticketing touting online – where people resell tickets for in demand events at a marked up price – has been criticised by both consumer groups and some in the live industry and artist community. Government initially ordered that the live sector address the issue, but even those promoters who dislike secondary ticketing said there was little they could do without ministers introducing new laws. As it turned out, said ministers weren’t all that keen on that suggestion.

Hodgson’s bill proposes a new rule by which promoters of gigs can stop touts from re-selling tickets for anything more than a 10% mark up. On her website, an introduction to the proposals says: “Ticket touting generates millions of pounds a year in the UK – all of which comes out of the pockets of fans, none of which goes to supporting grassroots sport or the creative industries, and little of which will be taxed like normal income or business profits. In some cases, touts can earn more than the artists!”

It adds: “It has also been claimed that many of the organised touts use legally dubious methods to buy large amounts of tickets, such as utilising networks of virus-infected computers known as botnets to squeeze out genuine fans trying to buy tickets when they go on sale from the original source. Touting has also been linked to funding or laundering money for other crimes, such as drug dealing and trafficking. The fact of the matter is that a few people are making large amounts of money by exploiting the hard work of people involved in the live entertainment industry and the passion of fans, whilst contributing nothing to either. This bill seeks to address this problem”.

While some in the industry continue to oppose the growth of secondary ticketing – with some hoping technology might eventually be the solution (it is harder to resell a mobile-phone delivered ticket) – others have just accepted it as inevitable in the modern age. And, of course, a secondary ticketing industry has grown up in recent years with websites that provide a market place for ticket resellers, whether they be experienced touts or fans who want to sell on a ticket they can no longer use.

The latter, of course, will oppose Hodgson’s bill, with a spokesman for one, Viagogo’s Edward Parkinson, telling CMU: “Viagogo believes that if a person has spent their hard earned money on a ticket and can no longer use it, they should have the right to resell it at a price they choose. Why should tickets be any different to cars, books or handbags? Viagogo supports all measures to protect fans from the real issues of fraud and online ticket scams. However the proposed bill, while it may be well intentioned, would simply drive ticket resale underground, increasing fraud and pushing up prices for fans”.

He added: “Consumers actually like having the option of going to the secondary market, they can buy tickets when they want and choose exactly where they sit. It is now an important and rapidly growing part of the ticketing sector. The reselling of tickets is not going to go away, so the question is how do you make it a better situation for the world that we live in today, and I believe that a safe and secure marketplace like Viagogo is the answer”.