Viagogo and See Tickets are among those that will be questioned by MPs in another Parliamentary hearing on ticket abuse.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee will hear from a wide range of voices affected by the ticketing industry, including operators, promoters and fans, in an evidence session scheduled for next Tuesday (March 21).
Representatives from the ticket sector last spoke to MPs in November 2016, with evidence heard leading to the Committee asking the Culture Secretary to call for the tax authorities to look into potential under-reporting of income. Since then an HMRC investigation has commenced, while the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an enforcement investigation into the four main secondary ticketing platforms.
Viagogo representatives and Rob Wilmshurst, chief executive at Vivendi Ticketing, See Tickets and Digitick, will be questioned at the start of the session. The Committee will then hear from Keith Kenny, Sales and Ticketing Director for ‘Hamilton’, Cameron Macintosh, as well as Ed Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp and music tour promoter Stuart Galbraith. Claire Turnham, a representative from the ‘Victims of Viagogo’ group and Mark McGivern, a journalist for the Daily Record newspaper, will be questioned by MPs in the afternoon.
The CMS Committee evidence schedule is here
“There have been many cases of fans who have been exploited by the ticketing markets reported in the press, where tickets to music and sporting events have been on sale at exorbitant prices,” said a Committee spokesperson in a statement. “The Committee considers the actions the Government is proposing to take to tackle this problem, as well as its response to the independent report by Professor Michael Waterson.”
During the November hearing, MPs looked into the use of software such as bots to scalp primary tickets before they are sold at inflated prices on the secondary market.
Event industry witnesses at the session included Ian McAndrew, chief executive of artist management company Wildlife Entertainment, Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum body, Reg Walker, the head of the Iridium Consultancy, and You Me At Six band member Josh Franceschi. Also interviewed were Ticketmaster chairman Chris Edmonds, Paul Peak, StubHub’s head of legal (Europe) and Professor Waterson, author of the Independent Review of Consumer Protection Measures concerning Online Secondary Ticketing Facilities.
At the session, Walker told MPs that some secondary ticketing websites are “covering for” professional touts. He said some sellers are “courted” by secondary sites because “there’s a finite amount of these people that harvest tickets in bulk”. Walker alleged that some sellers are paid in advance and provided with powerful software to manage their inventories, with the sites dependent on “bad actors” who use computers to harvest “and resell high volumes of tickets”.