New UK review of secondary ticketing leaves some disappointed

July 2016

Live events sector


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 for any new legislation. Some provisions of the Act remain largely ignored, despite the Government introducing amendments to create greater transparency around secondary sales in 2015. The Act stipulates that consumers must be made aware of the original face value of tickets for secondary sale, any restrictions on the ticket and, where appropriate, standing or seating information. However, consumer group Which? had previously uncovered numerous examples where consumers were not provided with this information on al four of the main secondary ticketing sites, Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me In!
In his 227 page report, Professor Waterson has rejected the need for further legislation – but called for greater enforcement of existing measures.
Management of acts such as Paul McCartney, Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, Radiohead, One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Noel Gallagher, and agents from CAA, ITB, UTA, Coda, X-ray Touring and 13 Artists have added their name to the statement, which reads: “Professor Waterson exposes a dysfunctional and under-regulated ticketing market,” said the statement. “His review calls on Government to enforce the law, and for secondary ticketing sites to apply the law and show responsibility. Fans must have clarity and fairness”.


Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Gtroup on Ticket Abuse, said: “It is welcome that we have seen some solid recommendations come out of the Waterson review today, which clearly is calling for fans to be put first within the market, and not be an afterthought. This is a step in the right direction in our cross-party campaign.
Jonathan Brown, chief executive of self-regulating UK ticketing body the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), says STAR “welcomes and supports these efforts to safeguard the future of this hugely important industry” and recommends that “the most effective way to achieve improvements” in the sector is “to extend [STAR’s] current Code of Practice to encompass resale”.


StubHub said “We welcome Professor Waterson’s recognition of the benefits for consumers from the secondary market and his decision to reject further legislation at this stage, including price caps and any general resale bans or bans for ‘crown jewel’ events”.


University Of Warwick-based economist Professor Michael Waterson received more than 1,000 submissions from promoters, managers, agents, artists and secondary ticketing platforms and reported: “The secondary ticketing legislation introduced in the CRA is still being understood and is in need of some detailed clarification,” and “Enforcement, in particular, is somewhat patchy. Clarification and enforcement should, in my view, take precedence over the creation of new legislation wherever possible. “Specifically, clear onus should be placed on secondary ticketing platforms to ensure their sellers fully comply with the secondary ticketing provisions of the CRA. This is because the information requirements in that legislation apply equally to sellers and to secondary ticketing facilities. A mechanism therefore needs to be devised in order to monitor the major secondary ticketing platform.”
The Report included eight main recommendations for the regulation of ticket resale:
– That a lead body, such as National Trading Standards, carry out a concerted investigation of compliance with the CRA, followed by action coordinated with the police, which “may require dedicated funding for a limited period”
– That enforcement action (and, if necessary, court proceedings) be taken over breaches of the CRA, including by companies selling tickets to British customers from abroad, “in order to test them in relation to practical scenarios”. Authorities should be able to impose a penalty of up to £5,000 per breach.
– That if “within a reasonable time no progress has been made by secondary sites on compliance and identification of traders”, the government considers alternative approaches, such as mandatory resale licences for companies selling over a certain amount of tickets
– That, with government assistance, the primary ticket industry forms a project group to ensure greater transparency for consumers on pricing (including compulsory charges), refunds, availability and the range of different ticket outlets and places to buy
– That if the industry fails to form a project group of its own accord and implement the necessary recommendations as necessary, ministers should call a round table for primary ticket industry representatives
– That the live event industry should be represented in the Cyber-security Information Sharing Partnership, a private-public initiative to share cyber-threat and vulnerability information,  which will “give the [ticketing] industry the ability to share, learn and seek advice from government and other business sectors”
– That primary ticket vendors should “take seriously the possibility of mass purchase by individuals using bots and recommends that event promoters should “seriously consider requirements for individuals to prove they are indeed individuals by means such as confirmed identity technologies” and report bot activity to the police
– That the industry should “continue to develop comprehensive approaches, such as a common standard for confirming the authenticity of tickets and common terms, and to improve consumer awareness of the standards and their benefits”, reducing consumer confusion


Music Week reports that Waterson dismissed calls for an outright ban on the secondary ticketing market, arguing it would simply drive the sector underground. He added that around 30% of tickets on resale sites were priced below face value, thus “offering a useful service to consumers”. The four main secondary ticketing sites have repeatedly argued against the need for regulation. He also rejected a cap on resale prices. “The history of price caps in other spheres is not a propitious one, particularly where the set of sellers is not well defined; people find their way around them,” he said, adding: “There is a question of who would enforce the cap and what resources they would employ. Merely declaring there to be a cap is not sufficient and saying “There are rapidly changing routes to market, including social networking sites, some of which are based in other jurisdictions, meaning any legislation would be extremely difficult to police or future-proof.”




Ontario’s Attorney General says she’s prepared to try and find out why so many Tragically Hip fans couldn’t buy tickets for their summer concerts – unless they wanted to pay many times face value on resale sites. Fans across the country complained the tickets were sold out almost instantly when they went on pre-sale. Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur says she sympathizes with fans and says the ministry needs to look at what is happening now with the resale prices and insists she wants to fix the situation.
Mumford & Sons manager Adam Tudhope has called for anti-touting campaigners to keep up the pressure on the government following the Waterson report on secondary ticketing, warning its recommendations will be “meaningless” without political backing. Tudhope told Music Week “the status quo is intolerable”, and backed the economist’s nine “pragmatic and achievable” recommendations. “He’s not saying there should be new legislation, but rather that government should be making sure that existing consumer law is applied to this market, and that secondary sites should stop flouting the law,” said Tudhope, who sponsored an anti-touting petition with fan-to-fan ticketing site Twickets, which has amassed more than 40,000 signatures.
The Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has dropped its investigation into the country’s secondary ticketing sector, rejecting claims that primary and secondary outlets – specifically Live Nation/Ticketmaster and Seatwave – “had colluded to gouge prices on resale site”s. The investigation was launched at the request of Belgium’s consumer affairs minister, Kris Peters – who last month successfully lobbied to have access to three secondary outlets blocked by Belgian ISPs – amid accusations of fraud after tickets for Adele’s sold-out shows in Amsterdam on 1 and 3 June appeared almost instantly on resale sites for close to €5,000.
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