Ticketing Amendment Gets A Bruising

The UK all-party parliamentary group looking into secondary ticketing made some progress toward getting the government to regulate the market, but still fell way short of its goals. 

The APPG’s plan was to tack on an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill debated May 13, which – if carried – would regulate a UK secondary market thought to be worth nearly $1.7 billion a year.

Sharon Hodgson, the Labour MP who’s one of the APPG’s driving forces, admitted it had made “limited progress” in making the secondary ticketing market more transparent.

She also warned that the secondary market amendment that will go to the House Of Lords doesn’t go far enough to protect consumers. Mike Weatherley, the Conservative co-chairman of the APPG, drew some comfort because it’s the first time the government has recognized that “there is a real problem with transparency in the secondary market, and the publication of this guidance represents a welcome, although limited, step forward.”

However, he also said: “These small changes still don’t go far enough to ensure that consumers have all the relevant information they need to make a buying decision. “In particular, consumers still won’t know who they’re actually buying a ticket from, which we wouldn’t stand for in any other marketplace.”

The issue appears to have slipped through Weatherley and Hodgson’s fingers when the latter’s own Labour party voted down an official amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill, although it was a watered-down version of what the AAPG would have tabled.

The Labour party also made its amendment subject to the whip, which means it tells its members which way to vote and then checks to make sure that they’ve done it.

The Labour whip did at least ensure the watered-down amendment only got put down by a vote of 290-225. The news that it was in place may also have persuaded consumer affairs minister Jenny Willott to toughen up her guidance to the secondary market.

From June 13 Willott’s beefed up guidance says secondary ticketing websites will be required to provide seat numbers, and in some cases the face value of the ticket. At no point in the two-hour parliamentary debate was there any mention of capping the profits being made by the secondary market, which was one of the more “draconian” measures the AAPG was seeking.

So far none of the leading secondary sites has commented on the outcome. Next step for Hodgson, Weatherley and the APPG is to seek guarantees that the likes of Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Ticketmaster’s Get Me In comply with Willot’s guidance.

Over the next few weeks they may also try to badger the Culture minister and the Home Office to discuss the wider set of recommendations in their AAPG report. In a bid to further toughen the measures against secondary sites, they’ll also need to lobby the House Of Lords, next stop for the Consumer Rights Bill and a place where the peers on the government are more open to making concessions.