CONSUMER / CRIMINAL
Live events sector
The manager of Mumford & Sons has announced the band’s support for a petition demanding new tough penalties for ticket touting in UK ticket touts. Adam Tudhope says he hopes action on touting in Britain could set a precedent elsewhere in the world.
The petition, entitled Enforce the Consumer Rights Act to protect music, arts and sport fans from touts, makes reference the statute of the same name, which requires ticket resellers to provide certain information on the seat or standing area the ticket is for, its face value and restrictions (for example, age). Tudhope’s petition has gained support from artistes including One Direction, Little Mix and Keane as well the Music Managers’ Forum (MMF) and the Association in Independent Festivals (AIF) and a number of MPs, and currently has approximately 27,000 signatures out of a target of 100,000, when it will be considered for debate in parliament.
Tudhope said he supported making touting a criminal offence as it is with football tickets, or was with the London 2012 Olympics Games. However, although both Tudhope and Mumford & Sons have long been critical of the secondary ticket market in its current form, Tudhope told IQ magazine that he’s not opposed to the idea of primary ticket agencies owning or partnering with secondary sites, as with Ticketmaster and Get Me In!/Seatwave and AXS and StubHub. Indeed, in an ideal world, Tudhope says, fans would “have [access to] easy-to-use websites associated with primary ticketing companies that would allow them to resell tickets to other fans at face value – plus a booking fee that doesn’t exceed 10% of the face value.”
In a statement issued in January in response to a Sunday Times article about Adele tickets listed for £1,000 on Get Me In!, Ticketmaster praised the site as offering consumers a “safe, transparent and lawful environment that responds to what fans want: the ability to buy and resell tickets when the primary supply is exhausted or purchasers can no longer use their tickets”.
In the USA, ticket resellers S4K Entertainment Group and J.A.J. Executive Services have filed a lawsuit against Madison Square Gardens in New York County Supreme Court. In 2007, New York updated its Art and Cultural Affairs Law to stop venues from revoking season tickets based on resale, a change that boosted the market for sporting and theatrical events.and allowed resellers to re-sell tickets. The plaintiffs say that MSG knew about their businesses, and cultivated a relationship with them before announcing a “sudden policy shift” in March that limited the number of Knicks and Rangers subscriptions that could be “controlled” by any “single customer.” MSG officials allegedly told the resellers: “No single customer will be able to purchase, manage or control more than eight (8) season tickets (directly or indirectly).” When the MSG determined account holders went over that number, arena officials threatened to revoke the opportunity to renew these seats, according to the lawsuit. S4K says that MSG also clamped down on season-ticket holders that used its services. MSG spokeswoman, Kimberly Kerns, said in a statement that the lawsuit was “without merit” adding “Our ticket policy simply limits the amount of tickets an individual can own or control in order to give many more fans access to Knicks and Rangers games”
Also in the USA, a judge has denied Songkick’s request for a temporary injunction in its court battle with Ticketmaster over allegations of anti-competitive behaviour. Songkick alleges that Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary have “exploited their monopoly power” to stifle competition by attempting to force the company to pay service fees for artist-to-fan pre sales and intimidating concert venues and artists into not working with Songkick (and other rival ticket outlets). Judge Dale S. Fischer, in the US District Court of Central California, said that the UK based ticket outlet and concert discovery service had “failed to show virtually any likelihood of success on the merits and has only made a weak showing, at best, as to irreparable harm.” Judge Fischer also granted a motion by Live Nation to dismiss portions of the lawsuit which challenge Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s 2010 merger, which was approved by the US Department of Justice and competition regulators around the World at the time.
Ticketbis, one of the eight secondary ticket outlets that are the focus of an official complaint to Spanish regulatory authorities by Doctor Music, is suing the promoter for libel. Jon Uriarte, CEO and cofounder of Ticketbis, says his company will “no longer stand idly before their statements about our business model [to which Doctor Music] ascribes criminal acts which in no way correspond to reality”. “The smear campaign conducted by Doctor Music to discredit our business model mostly harms our customers, who have found in Ticketbis a legal and safe platform on which to buy and sell tickets,” he comments. More on IQ online at http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/05/ticket-hits-back-libellous-doctor-music/#.VzbkfJErKM9.
In the UK The much-anticipated independent review of the UK’s secondary ticketing market, commissioned by the British government in October 201, has divided industry figures with its call for greater enforcement of the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) but no recommendation of new legislation. http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/05/uk-industry-reacts-michael-waterson-secondary-ticketing-report/#.V0cG0vkrKM9
And finally, Australian festival Maitreya has refused to provide refunds for ticketholders almost two months after the event was cancelled as a result of Buloke Shire Council’s late refusal to grant a licence for it to take place – saying that it had not been provided with the correct documentation from the event’s organisers. Organisers said: Unfortunately we are unable to make any more refunds for tickets purchased for the 2016 event. We plan to hold an event exclusively for ticketholders of Maitreya Festival 2016, on Grand Final Long Weekend, starting 30 Sep 2016 at Lake Wooroonook. Please hold your tickets or proof of purchase and these will gain you access to the event. We hope this event can go to re building trust within the Maitreya community, and assist the community of Wooroonook and Charlton with extra incomes that they so desperately need”. The legality of these move has also been called into question, with government body Consumer Affairs Victoria previously stating that all ticket holders should be entitled to a refund.