Saturday, April 14, 2007

Touting at an end - official. It says here.

This morning's Sun has an amazing, historical declaration. Touting is over:

OUR campaign to stop ticket touts ripping off music fans has been an amazing success.

Astonishing. Has touting been outlawed? Have the touts given back their tickets?

Erm, not quite:
We offered our readers the chance to hit back at the heartless spivs by signing our petition to ban all touting.

Already 9,127 Scottish Sun readers have backed our call for a new law.

So, then, an "amazing success" is getting a few thousand people to sign an online petition. We're not quite sure what, on this calibration, actual legislation would count as - something akin to second contact. (It's also roughly 3% of the newspaper's circulation, or about 0.1% of the Online Sun's monthly audience, which makes it look a little less resounding.)

Still, that fairly small petition must be having an effect:
The demand even sparked a debate in the House of Commons, led by the Glasgow MP John Robertson.

Yes. Although, while the issue was raised in the Commons on the 27th March, Robertson had first raised it on the floor earlier in the month - before the Sun had started its petition, and in the debate, he never mentioned the newspaper at all:
It is a privilege to speak under your chairmanship for the first time, Mr. Conway. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak about ticket touting, which each and every one of us has no doubt experienced at least once in our lifetimes.

I have been approached by a variety of radio stations and TV programmes, which have asked me exactly what the Government policy on ticket touting is, because they have been unable to find out. The fact is that there is no Government policy on ticket touting; if there is, the Government have done a great job of keeping it secret—it must be one of the few things not to have leaked out of the Government lately.

What's really interesting, though, is that while Robertson spent some time talking about touts, he then singled out a different organsiation for criticism:
Probably more sinister is Ticketmaster, a primary market that has recently introduced a ticket bidding option on its site. As an example, the lowest original price on Ticketmaster for Genesis tickets was £55. Why, then, is it allowing bidding on the option part of its website to begin at £80, climbing to £440 for a front row, centre stage ticket? I have not yet received any requests for meetings with Ticketmaster, but I would be interested to know why it believes that to be a fair system of accessing concert tickets.

So, the debate in the Commons actually singled out Ticketmaster as being "more sinister" than people flogging tickets through eBay, and yet, oddly, the Sun fails to mention that.

Ticketmaster is owned by Barry Diller's USA Interactive. A bloke selling tickets out his bedroom on eBay isn't.


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