Westminster proposes to ban bots and fully investigate secondary ticketing

Westminster proposes to ban bots and fully investigate secondary ticketing

The Government has disclosed plans to ban bots used by ticket touts following yesterday’s special Culture, Media and Sport Committee session.

A statement said banning of bots was the “one area of unanimity” among witnesses and the Committee intends to table an amendment to the report stage of the Digital Economy Bill later this month to effect this.

The Committee has also revealed that, due to the session uncovering “much more far-ranging and disturbing factors in the market”, a fuller investigation into ticketing is needed. The body also outlined plans to write to The Secretary Of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, “urging her to study the evidence given to us about the under-reporting of income by known touts and to raise this with HMRC as an area which warrants their investigation." 

A round table discussion with Bradley has been scheduled for the end of this month. The Committee stated it will “decide how best to take the issues forward” once this meeting has taken place and the results of a Competition and Marketing Authority investigation are known.

The statement pointed out that the “disturbing factors” uncovered during yesterday’s session include “clear indications of too close relationships between those selling tickets on the primary market and sellers on the secondary market"; “witnesses’ failure to give satisfactory answers about where companies’ main profits are made”; “the possibility of even Chinese walls between parts of the same company” and “the willingness of the ticket selling companies to even try to identify, let alone bar, large-scale ticket touts and fraudulent sellers.” 

As Music Week pointed out in its in-depth report from the House Of Commons session, flashpoints arose when Paul Peak (head of legal (Europe), StubHub) and Chris Edmonds (chairman, Ticketmaster UK) failed to satisfactorily answer MPs' questions over transparency and security checks of users of their sites.

Reacting to the news, FanFair Alliance – which campaigns against industrial ticket touting – gave the following statement. “This is fantastic news for all UK music fans and those who have campaigned so long for action. Yesterday, the dysfunctional market and bad practices of the Big Four secondary ticketing websites were laid bare before members of the Culture Media & Sport Committee. We anticipate that a fuller investigation of this market will lead to much-needed reform. The FanFair Alliance fully supports further actions into the fraudulent activities of online ticket touts, the industrial abuse of this market, and amendment to the Digital Economy Bill to ban the misuse of bots.” 

Yesterday’s session can be viewed in full via Parliament TV. 

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