U.K. gov't wants industry to end ticket scalping


LONDON -- The British government will not enforce strict new rules to regulate the secondary ticketing sector, but instead has called upon the live music industry to collectively clean its own act up.

In its response to a Parliamentary select committee report on ticket touting, the government stopped well short of offering consumers protection against ticket touts (scalpers).

The government said it is "now looking to event organizers, promoters and their ticket agents to work together to find new ways of making sure that tickets are properly distributed without fans routinely paying over-the-odds."

But these changes can happen "without the burden of new regulation," the government added.

"Fans are the lifeblood of our sporting and entertainment culture, and young fans keen to get to events are often the most exploited," Britain's culture secretary Andy Burnham said in a statement Monday. "Event owners and promoters need to work harder to ensure that real fans get tickets at a fair price. We've seen good examples of how this can work at major events. The whole industry now needs to take action to ensure that distribution is fair and effective."

Monday's announcement simply confirms what most observers already knew: that the government wants little to do with legislating the ticketing sector. In fact, the government has again stressed that legislation was a "last resort."

The government, however, has furthered its proposals for a voluntary agreement covering special "crown jewels" -- sporting and cultural events that will not be sold on the secondary market. Major concerts such as Live Earth or Live 8 are understood to be among those considered among this elite bracket of events.

The government has also vowed to continue liaising with the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, with an end goal of delivering a new code of principles for the ticketing market.

In the past, members of STAR, which include Ticketmaster and several U.K. venues, have met for regular "ticketing summits" with the government. And some industry participants have been thoroughly under-whelmed by the discussions.

Monday's awaited response follows the Culture, Media and Sport select committee report, published in early January, which described the inflated prices in the secondary ticket market as "unfair", but warned it had "reservations about the criminal law being used as a way of supporting organizers' efforts to select the audiences for their events, essentially as an aid to their self-policing of touting."