Channel Four ticketing documentary prompts fierce backlash

March 2012

Live events industry

The UK’s Channel 4 has been able to broadcast an expose of Viagogo and Seatwave’s business practices, despite a legal challenge by Viagogo which was thrown out by the High Court. When it comes to where the tickets came from for the secondary market, SJM, Phil McIntyre, MCD, Metropolis, Live Nation and 3A were all named as alleged providers of ‘allocations’ to Viagogo – providing tickets for events including the V Festival, Strictly Come Dancing. Coldplay, X-factor and in particular Take That – whose tickets had an average 100% mark up. Even Channel’s own charity Comedy Gala was apparently on sale on secondary market places! But in particular the programme alleged that “Power sellers” (errrmmmm, touts) and “professional sellers” (ditto) provide allocations, and tickets were also acquired by as Viagogo’s own staff using their own (multiple) credit cards registered to different addresses to secure (or ‘harvest’) tickets

The programme, titled ‘The Great Ticket Scandal‘ involved secret filming, and busted wide open the idea that the sites are ‘fan to fan’ facilities, alleging that it was the professional ‘brokers’ who list over two thirds of the tickets on Seatwave – in a billion pound market that includes sport, classical music and even the National Gallery’s Leonardo da Vinci exhibition and the Last Night of the Proms. Labour MP Sharon Hodgson was interviewed and suggested that legislation was needed to regulate the market.

Post broadcast comment concentrated on the UK Concert Promoter Association seemingly tacit agreement of some of the practice of some of its members, saying that its members had long lobbied for legislation with no effect, and others asked if promoters using the secondary websites accounted to the artiste’s for tickets sold at higher prices through secondary sites – and accounted to PRS for Music on a like basis.

In the USA, reports that Live Nation Entertainment may face steep fines after a possible violation of Ontario’s anti-scalping law. On Feb. 13, tickets for Madonna’s concert in Ottawa’s Scotiabank Park were sold out within 21 minutes of being placed on-sale. However on resale websites such as, however, tickets remained available. On Live Nation Entertainment’s subsidiary site,, Madonna fans could purchase a concert ticket for $1500 despite its $350 face value.

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