Secondary Ticketing Companies Grilled


Stubhub and Ticketmaster were forced to answer challenging questions about company practice as the Government’s Culture Media and Sport Select Committee held a special session to discuss secondary ticketing yesterday (15th November).

Taking place inside the House of Commons, the three-hour meeting saw contributions from a panel featuring You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi, Wildlife Entertainment CEO Ian McAndrewand MMF Chief Executive Annabella Coldrick.

Ticketmaster UK Chairman Chris Edmonds, eBay’s head of public affairs/government relations Alasdair McGowan and Paul Peak, head of legal, StubHub (Europe) also gave evidence. Andrew Bingham MP and Nigel Huddleston MP grilled them for 45 minutes. Bingham pointed out that Ticketmaster affiliate Live Nation is promoting an upcoming Phil Collins tour specifying there will be no resale, but he had discovered that the company’s secondary ticketing arm, Get Me In, is selling tickets online, stating to the panel: “You are not helping yourselves,”

Committee members seemed to take particular exception when Stubhub’s Peak said the company was “under no legal obligation to police users of our site”.

Peak also pointed out “97% of users are consumer sellers,” but Labour MP Julie Elliott was somewhat unsatisfied by his answers, commenting: “It appears you are not doing anything to check who people are”.

A third panel consisted of Professor Michael Waterson, who published an independent review into consumer impact of secondary ticketing earlier this year, and Reg Walker of Iridium Consultancy. Walker stated that some so-called ‘power sellers’ are enabled by some secondary sites with “preferential schemes”, such as being paid in advance by secondary sites and given powerful software to manage their inventories.

Committee member Nigel Adams, the Conservative MP who recently proposed outlawing the use of ticket ‘bot’ software commented on the companies after the session, saying to The Guardian: “They’re quite happy to turn a blind eye to what could be criminality. Anyone watching the session would have been alarmed by what looks like abject complacency”. Adams added: “In some ways they are acting like-old fashioned fences and they need to clean their act up”.

However, Waterson warned that outlawing bots was not a sufficient measure to tackle the problem. This follows speculation that the Italian Government is considering an outright ban on secondary ticketing.

Secondary ticketing is quite the hot potato again, largely thanks to the efforts of the FanFair Alliance in reviving interest in the issue within the wider music industry and political community.

Following the session, the Government’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee has announced plans to ban the bots and table an amendment to the report stage of the Digital Economy Bill later this month. In addition, they stated that a fuller investigation of secondary ticketing is required following “much more far-ranging and disturbing factors in the market” revealed during the session.

The FanFair Alliance said in a statement: “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, the industrial abuse of this market, and amendment to the Digital Economy Bill to ban the misuse of bots”.

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