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UK MPs warm to ticket resale regulation

At this morning's CMS Committee hearing on ticket abuse, several MPs revealed a willingness to work with the industry to bring an end to large-scale ticket touting

By Jon Chapple on 15 Nov 2016

Josh Franceschi, Ian McAndrew, Annabella Coldrick, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on ticket abuse

L–R: Franceschi, McAndrew, Coldrick


image © UK Parliament

Days after culture minister Dario Franceschini declared he would seek to make online ticket touting illegal in Italy, members of the British parliament (MPs) this morning signalled their willingness to further regulate the UK’s secondary ticketing market, with one stating: “The time has come when we have to do something.”

In three sessions, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee heard from MMF’s Annabella Coldrick, Wildlife Entertainment’s Ian McAndrew and You Me at Six frontman Josh Franceschi; Ticketmaster UK chairman Chris Edmonds, eBay/StubHub’s Alasdair McGowan and Paul Peak and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers’ Jonathan Brown; and Professor Michael Waterson and Iridium Consultancy’s Reg Walker, respectively, with MPs backing calls for action from those hostile to online ticket resale.

“I’m on your side on this one,” Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid-Worcestershire, told Coldrick. “The British public are more than happy to applaud entrepreneurs, but there’s a fundamental difference between that and price gouging.

“Being ripped off – that’s what the British public won’t tolerate.”

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham said: “I sat on the all-party group with Sharon [Hodgson MP] in the last parliament, and I took the view then that this market is working and we should leave well alone, but I have to say things have evolved […] and the time has come when we have to do something.”

“Things have evolved and the time has come when we have to do something”

Bingham, however, warned against acting hastily and appeared to suggest the issue still needs to be looked at in more detail. “What we don’t want to do, if we’re going to legislate, is send the industry back to blokes hanging around outside venues shouting, ‘Tickets, tickets, who wants tickets’,” he said. “As legislators, we want to get this right.”

Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney suggested “naming and shaming” promoters and venues complicit in the transfer of inventory from the primary to the secondary market, calling them “the villains in this”.

While declining to name names, Coldrick said there is a “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude among some artists, while McAndrew revealed he had been “approached often by the ‘big four’ resale sites”. “That’s a proposal I’ve refused on a number of occasions, but I can understand how that might be a temptation for [those] who want to maximise revenue,” he said, “and that’s why I think we need to look at transfer of tickets from the primary to the secondary market.”

Nigel Adams MP, a longtime campaigner against ticket bots and professional touts, asked Coldrick, McAndrew and Franceschi: “What is the solution? Not everybody can do what Josh does, sitting in a shop and selling tickets to fans… What do we need to do?”

“For a start, the law needs to be enforced,” said Coldrick. “The Consumer Rights Act [2015] says seat numbers and rows must be shown on tickets, that if promoters make a clear statement tickets can’t be resold they can cancel them…

“The experience was very positive, and a distinct progression from previous governments’ narrative around the issue of ticket abuse”

“There needs to be a wholesale inquiry into how these tickets are being sold and how they’re being acquired.”

McAndrew added: “We need to see criminalisation of bots, and we need to look at transfer of tickets from primary to secondary. I’d like to think that’s already an offence under existing consumer law.”

Reflecting on the session, McAndrew told IQ this afternoon: “I think the experience was very positive, and a distinct progression from previous governments’ narrative around the issue of ticket abuse, particularly with relation to ticket resale.

“The committee clearly understands the issues around ticket resale and the harm that is caused to consumers. They also understand the opaque nature and scale of the ticket resale business and how the lack of transparency impacts negatively on music fans, and recognise the vast profits and excessive fees generated by the £1 billion-a year-resale business and how virtually none of that goes back into the live music economy.

“I hope today’s session will provoke a more in-depth investigation to the issues around ticketing in the UK.”

 


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