Ticket touts could face government clampdownIndustry told to sort out problem or face action

28 March 2007

 

A crowd outside a theatre

Tickets to some West End shows go for vastly inflated prices

Ticket touts could face a legal crackdown if voluntary agreements with the music and promotion industry do not work, the government has confirmed.

Entertainment Licensing Minister Shaun Woodward has told MPs that a ‘balance’ needs to be found between giving people the right to sell on concert tickets and protecting people from being ripped off by touts.

He was responding to a debate in Westminster Hall opened by Labour's John Robertson who condemned ticket touting as ‘daylight robbery’.

He said there was no effective legislation to prevent people selling tickets at ‘exorbitant prices’ and tickets to top groups such as Take That and Genesis were being sold many at hundreds of pounds more than their original asking price on the eBay website.

He also raised the issue of so-called future selling of tickets where they were advertised by internet firms before a venue or date had been announced.

‘Daylight robbery’

Mr Robertson said: ‘Ticket touting is daylight robbery and innocent fans should not lose out to those wanting to make obscene profits.'

Mr Woodward said it was a ‘very real problem’. But surveys showed the public wanted to have the right to sell on tickets while also wanting the touts to be dealt with.

The ‘balance’ had to be maintained with allowing people to re-sell and taking action against those who "exploit legitimate fans".

Glastonbury Festival

He praised the organisers of the Glastonbury Festival who this year are planning to use photo IDs on their tickets.

But he warned: ‘It may be that we do have to bring in legislation. There are European directives that will be transposed later this year...to encourage fairer selling and fairer practices.

‘We are making the industry address the problem.

‘But the industry should be in no doubt that ultimately if the industry fails the consumer in the application of technology, in the application of available enforcement mechanisms at the moment, then the government would be prepared to act.’

Which? spokesman Bob Tolliday said: 'There's no doubt that the ticketing industry needs to do more to help people avoid the touts. Too many tickets find their way into the hands of organised touts and it's not always easy to identify the official ticket agencies for many events.'

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