Following the UK Government’s rejection of recommendations made by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) to tighten the laws around secondary ticketing, and bring UK law in line with other countries, anti-ticket touting organisation FanFair Alliance has gained industry-wide support for its renewed campaign calling on the Government to take action.
The Alliance has urged MPs to introduce new legislation to protect British consumers from “unscrupulous and exploitative traders who operate on controversial websites such as viagogo and StubHub”. At a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse (pictured) hosted in the House of Commons yesterday, 12 September, FanFair called for a “reset” in how politicians, regulators and the music industry look to tackle ongoing problems in the market.
Supported by many of the leading operators in the live music industry, FanFair said it is refocusing its campaign around three goals:
- New legislation to outlaw ticket resale for profit – bringing the UK up to speed with other music markets
- Urging Google, YouTube and other online platforms to stop prompting ticket tout websites – and start helping users find official sources of tickets
- For the live music industry to boost its support of consumer-friendly resale services
Among those backing the campaign are 13 Artists, Association of Independent Festivals, ATC Live, CAA Music, FKP Scorpio, Grumpy Old Management, Harvey Goldsmith, Kilimanjaro Live, Modest! Management, Music Managers Forum, Music Venues Trust, One Fiinix, WME and UK Music.
In recent years, FanFair said it had uncovered substantial evidence of speculative listings on secondary websites, where sellers list hundreds/thousands of tickets they do not possess. A 2022 report by ITV News detailed how the vast majority of UK festival tickets listed on viagogo were fraudulently advertised by just three people. FanFair said it understands that these people continue to trade on the website.
In March 2023, reporters for BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours highlighted how a new generation of touts are exploiting ticketing systems with increasingly sophisticated software.
In August 2021, the CMA published a series of recommendations that aimed to strengthen existing laws around ticket resale in order to protect consumers – including a ban on platforms allowing resellers to sell more tickets for an event than they can legally buy from the primary market, and ensuring platforms are fully responsible for incorrect information about tickets that are listed for sale on their websites.
In May 2023, the Department of Business & Trade rejected these recommendations – opting to prioritise the “power of competitive markets to give consumers choice and flexibility.” rather than protect ticket buyers and prevent unlawful activities.
FanFair said the problem was compounded by Google and YouTube continuing to permit ticket touting websites to buy themselves to the top of search results and signpost fans away from official sources of tickets.
The Alliance said it is now imperative for the UK to adopt legislation in line with countries including Ireland, France and Australia – outlawing the resale of tickets for profit, while ensuring customers who can no longer attend an event are being provided with viable services to resell at the price they paid or less.
FanFair Alliance campaign manager Adam Webb said, “When the FanFair campaign was established in 2016, online ticket touting in the UK was out of control. There was little enforcement of consumer law, and fans were systematically misled and ripped off by the dominant secondary ticketing platforms. Despite substantial progress to improve this situation it is now clear we need a reset. We need fresh legislation and fresh thinking – ending once and for all the parasitical practices of online ticket touts, while doing more to proactively promote capped consumer-friendly ticket resale. The UK is rightly proud of its live music culture, and this is an area we should and could be leading the world.”
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse chair Sharon Hodgson MP said, “Since I introduced a Private Members Bill in 2010 that attempted to outlaw the resale of tickets for profit, we’ve seen many other countries adopt strict anti-touting legislation. It is high time that the UK caught up. Every week we continue to see thousands of ticket buyers fall foul of predatory and unlawful practices in the secondary market. I wholeheartedly support FanFair Alliance’s three common sense goals which would provide audiences with far greater protections, while helping to boost one of our country’s most important cultural industries.”