Live events sector
In a policy U-turn, the UK Government is set to regulate ticket touting, with those breaching the new laws face fines of up to £5,000. The onus on stopping mass industrial scale toutng is to be shifted onto venues, however. The move came from the UK Government who had previously rejected attempts to amend legislation. The amendment now stands a much better chance of passing into law. Recently over 80 signatories to a open letter to the Government including the managers of One Direction and Arctic Monkeys, leading booking agents and the Association of Independent Festivals called on the Government to take action against ticket abuse and mass touting. Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood recently criticised the “ever-increasing plague of ‘secondary ticketing’ excess” as a “blight on live music and sports events and much to the detriment of fans”.
Under new legislation, passed by the House of Lords, people re-selling their tickets to music gigs and sports events in the secondary market will be regulated more closely. Sellers will have to provide information on how much the ticket cost, the seat number and any restrictions imposed by the venue. This will expose touts who have bought up dozens of tickets and allow venues which have banned re-sales to spot if they are happening. Those failing to provide the details will be committing a criminal offence. Former Sports Minister Lord Moynihan said the new laws, which will provide greater transparency for the venues, will help tackle the estimated £1.5bn of fraud in the secondary market each year. However the amendments are not as wide ranging as had been previously proposed and based on recommendations made by the All Party Parliamentary Group On Ticket Abuse earlier last year, which is led by Conservative MP Mike Weatherley and Labour MP Sharon Hodgson.
Under Lord Moynihan’s amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill, resale websites will be forced to report fraud they uncover. An independent review will also be set up over the summer to study the secondary market. Many people legitimately sell their tickets on the secondary market via services such as Viagogo, Stubhub and Seatwave. The new measures are designed to help track “suspicious activity”, a Government insider said.
Some of the secondary market sites, including Stubhub and Ticketmaster, criticised the regulation saying it would “undermine a competitive free market”.
Both Weatherley and Hodgson welcomed the latest developments. The former told reporters: “I am pleased that the Government has recognised the importance of regulation with regard to secondary ticketing, which will be to the benefit of us all. While the new amendment does not cover every change that we had hoped for, it is an important step in the right direction”.
A spokesman for the Government said: “The provisions agreed today will allow them [venues] to flourish, whilst ensuring consumers are better informed when buying second-hand tickets.” Tory peer Baroness Neville-Rolfe said that “light-touch regulation” was needed