A little over a year and a half before the 2012 London Olympics, a member of Britain’s Parliament is spearheading a movement to install strict new ticket resale legislation in the UK.
MP Sharon Hodgson is proposing a bill that would allow “event organisers to prevent their tickets being resold by unauthorised retailers for a price greater than 10 percent above the ticket’s face value.” The bill would also require government officials, ticketing companies and representatives of the live entertainment industry to work together “to establish a fairer system which would put fans looking for tickets in touch with other fans who just want their money back for tickets they can no longer use.”
Reportedly, the proposed bill already has gained support from representatives of some musical artists, including the managers of Iron Maiden and the Arctic Monkeys.
“Ticket touting generates millions of pounds a year in the UK – all of which comes out of the pockets of fans, none of which goes to supporting grassroots sport or the creative industries, and little of which will be taxed like normal income or business profits. In some cases, touts can earn more than the artists!” Hodgson wrote on her Web site.
While the secondary ticket market in the UK has grown over the last several years, it still lags behind its U.S. counterpart in sales volume, and the resale market also is viewed differently in the UK. Companies such as viagogo and Seatwave, and trade organizations like the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA) have worked hard to legitimize the industry, but there remains a perception that the business still contains some unscrupulous resellers, often referred to as “touts.”
Graham Burns, who runs ASTA, blasted the proposal, telling TicketNews that the bill will give promoters an unfair advantage over the secondary market.
“Frankly we find the proposal hilarious, if it were not for the fact that the consumer would be so disadvantaged! What this actually means in real terms is that the Promoters and managers who are certain of a sell out can price the tickets for those guaranteed sold out events as high as they like knowing that the tickets will not be available on the open market. The events that may not be so popular can be left open, free to trade and if it starts to go South, the tickets can be back doored to the Secondary Market as they are now for distribution – the Ticket Broker can ‘do his best!'” he said.
“This proposed legislation is designed that the Promoters can control the flow of tickets to the public on their terms. They are becoming frightened that the Secondary Markets are now becoming educated, the consumer is able to choose. The Promoters and Managers want to maximise their revenue – as they do now – instead of by allowing the customer choice – by controlling the flow of tickets on their terms,” he added.
In addition, if it were to pass, the proposal could affect U.S. ticket resellers, which have increasingly turned to the UK and Europe in an effort to boost secondary sales.
“The fact of the matter is that a few people are making large amounts of money by exploiting the hard work of people involved in the live entertainment industry and the passion of fans, whilst contributing nothing to either,” Hodgson wrote. Her proposal was scheduled to receive a second committee reading today, January 21. “This Bill seeks to address this problem, but to do it needs support – both inside and outside Parliament.”
Hodgson’s effort is the latest government attempt to corral the UK secondary market, following attempts by officials over the past few years. A report issued early last year determined that existing laws were enough and the industry could essentially police itself, but prior to those findings other efforts were made to protect certain popular events from the secondary market.