Legislators in Quebec, in a move reminiscent of a recent action in Ontario, are considering regulating ticket resale in the Canadian province by prohibiting reselling tickets for amounts above face value.
Bill 25, “An Act to prohibit the resale of tickets at a price above that announced by the authorized vendor,” was sponsored by Minister of Justice Jean-Marc Fournier, and in very simple terms seeks to essentially change the resale market as it currently exists.
“No merchant may sell a ticket to a consumer at a price above that announced by the vendor authorized to sell the tickets by the producer of the event,” the proposed bill states. “For the purposes of the first paragraph, ‘ticket’ means any document or instrument that upon presentation gives the ticket holder a right of entry to a show, sporting event, cultural event, exhibition or any other kind of entertainment.”
Late last year, Ontario passed a ticket resale law that prohibited primary ticket sellers, such as Ticketmaster, from reselling their own tickets on secondary ticket sites they own, such as TicketsNow, which is owned by Ticketmaster. Both Ticketmaster and TicketsNow are part of Live Nation Entertainment.
But Fournier’s proposal is much more strict, and would potentially devastate the province’s secondary market. The bill could be voted on as early as the fall.
“It’s extreme legislation and an emotional reaction,” ticket broker Mario Livich, spokesperson for the Canadian Ticket Brokers Association (CTBA), told TicketNews. Livich is also CEO and founder of Vancouver-based ShowTime Tickets. “Hopefully, common sense will prevail, because it’s proven that ticket resale won’t go away, but this bill would drive it underground, which would be bad for consumers.”
The CTBA opposes the bill, and Livich added that the CTBA is already at work trying to education members of the province’s National Assembly and the public about how damaging the proposal could be.
“Tickets are a legal commodity, and any legal commodity should be afforded the right to be traded freely,” he said. “This bill would move things backwards, and consumers could be hurt in the process because they would have less protection, and could be exposed to more unsavory activity, if transactions are driven underground.”
Estimates vary, but the Canadian secondary ticket market could be worth as much as $500 million and employs hundreds of people. ShowTime Tickets alone has more than 20 employees.
“Free and open marketplaces increase competition, and that often leads to lower prices,” Livich said. “Instead of this regulation, what Quebec and all of Canada needs is more transparency in the ticket industry and a licensing requirement.”
Unlike in the U.S. where ticket resale is more widely accepted, in Canada, as in the UK, the secondary ticket market is often viewed more negatively, despite the fact that the industry thrives in both countries. Currently, with the Vancouver Canucks being in the NHL Stanley Cup finals, emotions surrounding resale are running high, as fans learned of the sometimes exorbitant prices being charged for tickets.
At a press conference Tuesday, June 7, Fournier said he believes the proposal will benefit consumers — in addition to artists, sports teams and others — by keeping prices at the intended level. “In addition to creating unfairness to consumers, resale at a higher price thus causes a decrease in the overall consumption of tickets.”