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Culture Secretary schedules secondary ticketing round table

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Karen Bradley MP, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, is to hold a round table on the online secondary ticketing market before the end of the month.

The session follows a Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing into the situation at Westminster yesterday (15 November) which invited artist managers, ticketing companies and industry experts to give evidence.

Josh Franceshi from You Me At Six, Ian McAndrew (Wildlife Entertainment), Annabella Coldrick (Music Managers Forum), Ticketmaster UK’s Chris Edmonds, Alasdair McGowan (eBay) and StubHub’s Paul Peak all contributed.

The one-off session arose from the Committee’s concerns about distortions within the market, caused by the use of technology to ‘harvest’ large numbers of tickets as soon as they go on general sale — thus restricting availability to fans and pushing up prices.

The Committee said the session shed a light on more far-ranging factors, including clear indications of too close relationships between those selling tickets on the primary market and sellers on the secondary market.

It said witnesses’ failure to give satisfactory answers yesterday to the committee’s questions about where companies’ main profits are made, the possibility of ‘Chinese walls’ between parts of the same company, and the willingness of ticket-selling companies to even try to identify, let alone bar, large-scale ticket touts and fraudulent sellers have led it to conclude that a fuller investigation of the whole area of ticketing is needed.

The Secretary of State will now hold a round table on this subject at the end of the month.

The Committee added: ‘We will decide how best to take the issues forward once we know the outcome of this and in light of the conclusion of a Competition and Marketing Authority investigation, expected shortly, into whether ticket companies are complying with the law.

‘In the meantime, we will be writing to the secretary of state urging her to study the evidence given to us about the under-reporting of income by known touts and to raise this with HMRC as an area which warrants their investigation.

‘The one area of unanimity among our witnesses was that some good might be done by the banning of the use of bots. We intend to table an amendment on Report Stage of the Digital Economy Bill later this month to effect this.’

A spokesperson for the FanFair Alliance – the organisation campaigning for greater legislation within the secondary ticketing market and an end to large-scale online touting, said: ‘This is fantastic news for all UK music fans and those who have campaigned so long for action.

‘Yesterday, the dysfunctional market and bad practices of the Big Four secondary ticketing websites were laid bare before members of the Culture Media & Sport Committee.  We anticipate that a fuller investigation of this market will lead to much-needed reform. The FanFair Alliance fully supports further actions into the fraudulent activities of online ticket touts and the industrial abuse of this market, as well as an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill to ban the misuse of bots.’


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