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Promoter of Reading and Leeds festivals supports UK ticket resale cap

By Alfred Branch Jr.

A recent bill proposed in Parliament that calls for a 10 percent cap above face value on resold tickets has gained support from the promoter of two of the UK's premiere music festivals.

Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, which promotes the Reading and Leeds festivals, told BBC Radio that he would like to see the cap adopted in part to clean up the unregulated secondary market.

"People will still try to set up illegal websites but what [the proposed law] would do is give the public an absolute knowledge that if [those sites are] trying to sell at more than that percentage, it's almost certainly dodgy and illegal," Benn told BBC Radio.

The Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) bill, proposed by Labour Party Member of Parliament Sharon Hodgson, also prohibits the resale of tickets before they have been released, and calls for only tickets that have been purchased from the original issuer to be resold. In some cases, tickets can be resold for more than 10 percent above face value if the reseller has gained permission from the original issuer.

Hodgson's proposal is slated to be discussed in Parliament in May.

Benn's comments supporting the cap come as he works with secondary ticket marketplace viagogo, which is one of the authorized resellers. The Web site currently lists tickets to the Reading Festival at prices higher than 10 percent above face value, starting at $358 each and going up to more than $1,600 apiece.

In a subsequent interview with UK music publication NME, Benn said there are only a few authorized ticket sellers for the two festivals, and that fans should avoid the other sites. Among the ticket companies authorized to sell, or resell, tickets are See Tickets, Ticketmaster and viagogo.

"The rest of [the other sites reselling tickets]? Just don't do it," Benn told NME as a warning to fans.

Joe Cohen, CEO of UK-based ticket resale site Seatwave, and Ticketmaster-owned Get Me In, reportedly have both come out against the Hodgson bill.
"When you put this idea into practice is where it falls down and turns into rubbish. There's no place on the planet where a cap works," Cohen told BBC Radio.

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