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Ontario drops proposed ticket transparency rules

The province has abandoned its pledge to force ticket sellers to disclose the number of tickets available to the public following resistance from the industry

By Jon Chapple on 29 Nov 2017

The Tragically Hip, Ontario

The Ontario debate follows controversy over resold tickets for Tragically Hip's farewell tour

image © The Tragically Hip

The Canadian province of Ontario has abandoned plans for legislation that would have required ticket sellers to disclose how many tickets are available to the public for a given event seven days before they go on sale.

The measure was announced last month as part of a consumer protection bill that also provides for capping the price of resold tickets at 150% of face value; banning ticket bots and prohibiting the resale of bot-bought tickets; and requiring business selling or reselling tickets to disclose information including the capacity of the venue, the number of tickets on general on-sale and the original face-value ticket price.

While those measures remain largely uncontroversial, Ontario’s Liberal party government is to drop the transparency clause under pressure from artists and the industry, reveals the Globe and Mail, concluding that the rule “would be a disincentive for musicians, particularly small and medium acts, to tour the province”.

“Revealing ticket numbers could enable touts to better use bots to buy bulk tickets where they’re known to be scarce”

While some argue a lack of transparency around the amount of tickets actually on sale is a symptom of a “broken” ticket market – “The murky nature of how many tickets are ever available to the public makes the secondary resale market an easy scapegoat when fans fail to acquire tickets on regular sale,” argues TicketNews’s Sean Burns, “only to see immediate resale options at substantially higher prices on the secondary market” – promoters and primary ticketers largely disagree, with the abandonment of the transparency measure following a concerted effort by Ticketmaster Canada and promoters’ association Music Canada Live, reports the Globe and Mail.

According to the paper, Ticketmaster’s Canadian COO, Patti-Anne Tarlton, told Ontarian parliamentarians that revealing total ticket numbers “could enable [touts] to better use bots to buy bulk tickets where they’re known to be scarce”.

A different proposal, backed by opposition parties, would force primary sellers to make at least 75% of tickets available to the public – although leaving artists and promoters with just 25% of ticket inventory would make Ontario less appealing to companies based outside the province, so is similarly unlikely to make it into law.


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