Thursday, January 10, 2008

Select Committee report: Selling on tickets isn't bad

Disappointingly, the actual report of the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee into secondary ticket sales - although published - isn't online yet, but the BBC has a copy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the recommendations look like a bit of a messy compromise. Which is a polite way of saying "fudge", of course.

The MPs recommend that there's no reason for legislation stopping the practice:

Committee chairman John Whittingdale said it was "neither practical nor in the interests of consumers" to ban ticket sales through the secondary market - where tickets are sold on.

Which is good news; the committee also blames promoters and venues for creating the problem in the first place by having a rubbish, or sometimes non-existent, returns and refund systems in place.

Mr Whittingdale said giving event organisers a share in profits from resold tickets was the "middle way".

So: the promoters have more-or-less dropped the ball by making selling on the only way you can get any value from a ticket for an event you can no longer attend, and yet Whittingdale and his committee think they should be rewarded as a result?

The committee suggests that there should be an outright ban on the resale of tickets given for free to children and the disabled, which seems fair enough, but then:
There should be an "across-the-board commitment" that the "distasteful" sale of tickets for free events and charity events - such as Concert for Diana - will be stopped.

But on what principle? And who is define what "distasteful" is - okay, an event like the Diana concert where all the profits go to charity would count; but would Live Earth? And how about if half the profits are going to charity? What about ten per cent? Could a promoter make such a rule work to their favour if they offered a slither of one per cent of the ticket sales go to a charity? How about if the event is, say, raising funds for something that isn't a registered charity - perhaps to raise awareness of something, or to help out a band whose equipment has been stolen? Does that count as distasteful?

Perhaps what actually counts as distasteful will be cleaned up when we're able to read the full report. But the appearance of the phrase "the middle way" means we're not holding out much hope.

Oral evidence to the committee
Evidence given in advance]


Anonymous said...

"Giving event organisers a share in profits from resold tickets was the 'middle way'" sounds a lot like the idea raised by management companies a few weeks ago. It still makes no sense - Surely their chance to make the money is when they first sell the ticket? And if they could take a slice of the profit from a touted ticket, would they also be offering to chip in some of the difference for those people who made a loss on Spice Girls tickets which they couldn't sell on?

The other proposal, about charity tickets, sounds fudgetastic. Aren't the terms "across-the-board" and "distasteful" oxymoronic? This sounds like a conveniently flexible rule added as a PR exercise, in the same way that eBay would parrot their rules on ticket sales and refuse to do anything when festival passes appeared on their site, but suddenly grew a conscience and got tough when the tabloids found out Diana tickets were turning up online. Presumably because upsetting smelly music fans isn't a problem, but 'EBay Profits from Dead Princess' headlines are.

ian said...

CMS Select Committee report is here...

touting report - 10 Jan

Surprisingly, I haven't read it all yet.

Anonymous said...

Turns out the "middle way" suggestion is merely described in the report, not actually recommended. In fact the only recommendations are that everyone should be nicer, play by a set of imaginary rules, and that regulation is a last resort and not really being considered. Nothing changes in other words. Bet Harvey Goldsmith is fuming. Good.

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