Music and sports titans call for action against online ticket touts

Jessica Morris
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One Directions manager, Modest Management, has called signed the open letter (Source: Getty)

Leading figures in sports, music and theatre are calling for the better regulation of websites re-selling event tickets, claiming they simultaneously rip off fans while hurting artists and sports professionals.

In an open letter to the government they called for changes to the Consumer Rights Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, which would better protect music and sports fans.

The letter is signed by music industry titans such as Iron Maiden, the Arctic Monkeys and the managers of One Direction and Pink Floyd.

Sports group including the Lawn Tennis Association, the Rugby Football Union and the England and Wales Cricket Board are also rallying behind calls for change.

Tomorrow ministers will vote on the addition of a clause to the Consumer Rights Bill which would change the way secondary ticketing platforms sell tickets.

The clause would require ticket reselling websites to publish a ticket's face value, its seat number, the name of the seller and whether its terms and conditions permit resale.

It received backing from the House of Lords last year however the government is against its inclusion. They say customers will be forced to jump through too many hoops before they can purchase secondary tickets.

The open letter, published in the Independent, said:

Clause 33 of the Consumer Rights Bill would given consumers looking for tickets basic information which the secondary platforms have been so keen to hide: who they're buying from, the face value of the ticket, the seat number and, importantly, whether that ticket is being sold in contravention of its terms and conditions.

Sadly, the government tried to block this Clause in the Lords, and want to strip it out of the Bill in the commons tomorrow.

If the secondary platforms have nothing to fear from transparency, they have nothing to fear from these simple provisions.

It's high time the government stopped sticking up for them, and decided to put fans first.

In 2012 Operation Podium, the Metropolitan Police unit set up to tackle Olympics-related crime, found reselling practices were making sports fans increasingly reliant on the secondary ticketing market and a dearth of regulation was encouraging "unscrupulous practices and "fraud."

This followed Channel 4's Dispatches: The Great Ticket Scandal claimed websites such as Viagogo get their tickets from professional resellers and even promoters rather than fans and sell them way above face value.

Viagogo has issued a statement saying the proposed changes to the Consumer Rights Bill would actually harm consumers:

We are in favour of making information clearer on our website and have made a number of commitments in our recent discussions with the government. However, publishing the original seller's identity is unnecessary because all tickets come with the viagogo guarantee, while publishing specific seat numbers allows rights owners to chancel tickets which are legitimately being resold. Anyone can see that is not in the consumer's best interests.

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