The UK government has assured young music fans that legislation designed to outlaw ticket bots is just part of a range of measures designed to prevent scalpers from inflating prices.
Matt Hancock, Minister for the Creative Industries, spoke to the NME music magazine in the same week the government announced new legislation to prevent secondary ticket companies from using automated bots to harvest gig tickets in bulk.
The ban under the Digital Economy Act means that anyone using bots to buy more than 10 tickets at a time will now face unlimited fines.
Hancock said the government would not make reselling illegal, but was keen to ensure that music fans have a fair chance of obtaining tickets at a reasonable price.
“The goal here is to make sure that fans can buy tickets at reasonable prices,” Hancock told the NME. “The legislation we announced yesterday is one part of the broader plan. The legislation to ban the bots is one track to come into force in April; it’s got to go through Parliament between now and now but I’m fully confident that they will approve.
“This is about tackling computers that buy more than 10 tickets at a time, but we know there’s much more to it than that. The enforcement from police of existing laws has been progressing too so that we can use the powers that we’ve got already. We’ve also got the Competition Authority looking at the market. Lots of people raised the concern that when the primary ticket seller owns the secondary ticket seller – giving them market power. It looks like they’re separate markets, when actually they’re not.”
Hancock said the government would not rule out imposing a price cap for reselling, as has recently been introduced in Ontario in Canada, but said it is vital consumers are able to trade tickets they no longer require.
He told the NME: “Venues can choose not to allow re-sale above face value, and some do. As we found in the Waterson Review published last year, fans overwhelmingly want the chance to re-sell a ticket if they can’t use them and have a functioning secondary market.
“What we need is a secondary market that is fair – not skewed.”
IMAGE: Martin Fisch