British Columbia Introduces Ticket Sales Act

May 2020

CONSUMER: British Columbia is the latest Canadian province to introduce a Tickets Sales Act, banning bots and enforcing transparency requirements for the secondary market, and intended to “bring more fairness and transparency” to purchasing tickets to live entertainment events.

The Ticket Sales Act, introduced by Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to the Legislative Assembly after a 2018 consultation which gathered in some 6,500 responses, would outlaw the use of automated “bot” software programs in the province, as well as introduce requirements involving the disclosure of ticket prices, refund guarantees by secondary sellers, and disclosure that secondary sellers are not the original ticket provider, their name, and their contact information.

Franworth said: “By establishing a regulatory framework for the sale of tickets in B.C., we would want to ensure that everyone has a fair chance of obtaining a ticket at a fair price”

But the proposed legislation stops short of imposing a price cap on resale tickets. It also fails to tackle what many see are problems in the primary market include any requirement on the part of primary ticket vendors to disclose how many tickets are available to the general public. Ticketmaster and its parent Live Nation have lobbied heavily against the inclusion of any requirements for transparency across Canada, and Ticketmaster perhaps unsurprisingly issued a statement in favour of the legislation. “The legislation introduced in British Columbia will improve the overall ticket buying experience and we applaud the Solicitor General and his team for their commitment to the issue”  When similar legislation was originally introduced in Ontario, it included disclosure requirements designed to prevent consumers being confused into how many tickets had been sold or suggestions that an event was approaching sold out status, particularly for events where there were still plenty of tickets available, but that was struck from the legislation after Music Canada Live and Ticketmaster Canada lobbied heavily against the inclusion of such transparency.

If the proposed legislation is adopted, those found in violation of policies would be subject to thousands of dollars in fines.

“For too long, artists and concert goers were being unfairly hurt by ticket buying software and bots” adderd Lisa Beare, Minister Of Tourism, Arts And Culture and “This new ticket buying legislation will ensure that people are protected with better price transparency. Most of all, people will be able to enjoy the diverse performances and entertainment BC has to offer, without being unfairly gouged at the box office”.

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, introduced its own Ticket Sales Act on 1 July 2018, which banned bots and overhauled other areas of ticket selling. Ontario’s act also placed a resale price cap of 50% above face value on tickets which was criticised by some in the live sector. Alberta introduced its own ticket-selling legislation in August 2018, with Manitoba following suit in December.

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