Tuesday 13 January 2015 7:01 am

Bid to restrict online ticket touts defeated in parliament after government wins vote

A bid to introduce stricter regulations for online ticket touts whose websites re-sell event tickets failed yesterday, after the government won a vote to overturn it by 289 votes to 204.

Last week leading figures in sports, music and theatre wrote an open letter calling for the inclusion of a clause in the consumer rights bill, which would require online ticket touts to publish a ticket's face value, the seller's name and whether or not it was permitted for resale.

The letter said the clause was needed to stop online touts ripping off fans while hurting artists and sports professionals. But the government argued increased regulation would require buyers to jump through too many hoops before buying a secondary ticket.

Music industry titans such as Iron Maiden, the Arctic Monkeys and managers of One Direction and Pink Floyd got behind the bid. The Rugby Football Union and the England and Wales Cricket Board were among some of the sports groups who signed the letter.

Secondary ticketing websites such as Viagogo, StubHub and Ticketmaster provide a platform for people to resell unwanted tickets. But the practice has come under fire with accusations of promoters purposely buying tickets for resale simultaneously pushing out fans.

In 2012, Operation Podium, a Metropolitan Police unit set up to tackle Olympics-related crime, found resale practices made sports fans more reliant on secondary ticketing websites and a lack 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, which opposed the clause, said that the existence of such websites actually benefits consumers. It allows them to re-sell unwanted ticket and provides another opportunity to buy tickets to sold-out events.

"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," it said in an earlier statement.

"However, publishing sellers identity is unnecessary because all tickets come with the Viagogo guarantee, while publishing specific seat numbers allows rights owners to cancel tickets which are being legitimately resold," Viagogo said.