The news that creative industries minister Shaun Woodward MP has decided "big events" will get protection from people reselling tickets looks to be another sign the government is unsure of its stance on the secondary market.
"I’m pleased to see it’s back on the agenda," said Live Nation U.K. managing director Stuart Galbraith, one of the promoters repeatedly frustrated in his efforts to get culture secretary Tessa Jowell to legislate against touts.
After a series of meetings that dragged on for a year, Galbraith, SJM Concerts director Rob Ballantine and Geoff Ellis from Scotland’s Dance Factory – all representing the Concert Promoters’ Association – and several other industry bodies were left empty-handed as Jowell decided not to act.
Since that decision, thousands of music fans lost about £1.5 million following the collapse of Ticket Tout, the online secondary market trader that started business only a year ago.
Woodward also stepped in to tell eBay not to resell tickets for the July 1st Lady Diana memorial concert as well as for the Radio One Big Weekend (May 20-21) because the bands were playing for free, but – in the latter case – his plea went unheeded.
Since Jowell’s decision not to act, Woodward, who sat in on several of the industry meetings, has announced the government will set up a parliamentary inquiry into ticket touting, which would seem to indicate it’s already unsure if the minister made the right call.
The fact that Woodward made the announcement, and was also the one to tackle eBay, suggests he’s taking a higher-profile role in the issue and Jowell a lower one. It’s bound to cause speculation that she might be reshuffled out of the department of culture, media and sport when new Prime Minister Gordon Brown announces his first cabinet.