Commons Debates Secondary Market

The UK’s House of Commons was expected to discuss secondary ticketing March 13, when Hove and Portslade MP Mike Weatherley intended to call for the market to be tightened.

Although culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s office recently indicated that the government isn’t in favour of regulating the business, some Tory MPs have admitted to being shocked by what they saw on “Dispatches,” a TV documentary showing how the market operates.

Weatherley is unhappy about the networks of people that buy tickets in bulk with the intention of re-selling them for a profit.

“A lot of the focus of the programme was based on artists or promoters or venues holding tickets back and using free market mechanisms to sell those tickets at an additional profit to the benefit of those putting on the concert or event,” he explained.

“I see nothing wrong with that if it is being done with the copyright holder’s permission.

“What is wrong is where the secondary ticket seller was buying via a network of intermediary operators for the specific purpose of on-selling at a profit to them, not the artist.”

The TV programme claimed promoters including Live Nation, SJM Concerts, 3A, Metropolis and MCD allocate as many as 2,000 tickets per show to companies such as Viagogo.

The secondary seller will then pay as much as 90 percent of the extra money back to the promoter and artist.
But some firms are using teams of buyers armed with a stack of credit cards to buy even more tickets for which they’re not paying a kickback.

Weatherley is expected to suggest similar controls to those already in place for the re-sale of tickets for such events as the upcoming London Olympics.

“As is well known and accepted as a matter of principle, it is against the law to on-sell an Olympic ticket – whether at a profit or not. It must be sold back to the organiser,” he said. “It strikes me as baffling that the government accepts this for specific sporting events, and promotes strong enforcement, but is reluctant to take action for the benefit of our creative industries.”

“If it is good enough for the world’s premier sporting event – and those rules apply in every country which hosts the Olympics – then it should be good enough for our very own creative industry, an industry that is worth protecting before we lose the world-beating position Britain currently enjoys.”

He said he’s not saying that every ticketed event should be subject to additional legislative restriction, as many acts are happy for secondary sites to buy and sell their tickets.

However, he feels that acts unhappy with that situation should be afforded some protection by law.