U.K. aims to curb ticket scalping

Glastonbury, Tom Waits try admission alternatives

LONDON -- The U.K. government has called on the ticketing and events industry to reduce the number of tickets that end up in the hands of scalpers. Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe launched a consultation to find solutions on how to improve the ticketing market and urged the industry to improve the service on offer to fans.

The government wants to see more use of methods that have successfully prevented scalpers from buying up tickets for high profile events.

Anti-scalping measures include individual names printed on tickets, requiring ID to gain access to venues or the replacement of paper tickets altogether. Glastonbury festival has deterred secondary ticketing with a photo ID system, while Reading and Leeds Festivals promoter Festival Republic's Web site directs fans to authorized agencies. Tickets to Tom Waits' Scottish and Irish dates last summer featured the name of the concert-goer, who also had to present ID.

"Real efforts are being made by some event organizers to thwart the touts (scaplers) and ensure that as many tickets as possible go straight to real fans," said Sutcliffe. "But most of the time tickets go to whoever is quickest online on the day they go on sale -- and too much of the time that is touts who simply want to resell at a profit. The industry now needs to quickly build on these successful new approaches and ensure they become much more widespread."

The government is not proposing specific curbs on the secondary ticketing industry, but Sutcliffe warned that some form of legislation could not be ruled out if consumers continue to get a raw deal.

"An honest and transparent resale market can be beneficial; it provides fans with an opportunity to buy tickets for sold-out events or sell tickets they can no longer use," he said.

"There is no great appetite for further legislation in the ticketing market, whether from fans, event organizers or the ticket sellers themselves. But we need to see some rapid improvements. We cannot rule out the possibility of legislation if consumers continue to be disappointed by the ticketing market."

Last April, the government agreed with a report by a committee of MPs and ruled out legislation in favor of the industry developing a voluntary code, but it appears that ministers are concerned that not enough has been done to protect consumers.