Controversial ticket resale company Viagogo failed to send a representative to last week’s Culture, Media And Sport select committee hearing on secondary ticketing, infuriating Parliamentarians in the process.
The company is headquartered in Switzerland and claimed at the 11th hour that it did not have “adequate representation” in the UK to be able to assist MPs with their enquiries. This is despite having a London office in Cannon Street, though The Gen is hearing reports that they recently packed up and got out of dodge- a company literally on the run.
Speakers who did actually show up included Ed Sheeran manager Stuart Camp, Stuart Galbraith of promoter Kilimanjaro Live, Keith Kenny, sales and ticketing director for Hamilton, the musical and Claire Turnham, a music fan who set up a ‘Victims of Viagogo’ campaign and Facebook group after being overcharged by £1,150 on the site.
As expected, Viagogo got a deserved roasting at the hearing and in the aftermath. Music Managers Forum CEO Annabella Coldrick said: “The recent select committee demonstrated Viagogo’s contempt of parliament and British music fans as well as the wider failings of an un-transparent and un-authorised resale market that damages the reputation of live music”.
Coldrick continued: “We’re pleased to see the government is now committed to implementing Waterson and banning bots, but would like the law to be clarified and platforms held responsible for unveiling ticket touts who distort the market”.
An important point- with all of the noise surrounding Viagogo, let us not forget the other big three secondary sites Stubhub, Get me In and Seatwave– the later two of which are owned by Ticketmaster, who are owned by Live Nation. In fact, Ticketmaster now operates secondary sites in 13 countries, with reported 34% growth in secondary generating $1.2bn in 2015. A situation that surely puts Live Nation in the unique position of being able to profit from secondary sales on their competitor’s shows- an issue not addressed by last week’s Select Committee.
As reported, the Government recently announced that touts will be banned from using ticket-harvesting “bots” in an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill. This was due to be discussed last Wednesday but was postponed due to the terrorist attack in Westminster.
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