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2019 in review: June

Half way through the year, we reported that the online ticket sales workshop held by the US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) called for a clamp down on bots, increased transparency and including fees up front.

The forum, entitled That’s the Ticket, welcomed lawmakers, industry representatives from both primary and secondary markets and academics to discuss industry-wide advertising and pricing issues, and looked at ways to address deception beyond traditional law enforcement.

During the FTC workshop, it was said that sanctions against those using bots were not harsh enough. The US has a bill in place to deal with automated software, the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS Act), though industry insiders said more needed to be done.

It also pointed to the possibility of imposing new rules to make ticketing sites present fees alongside the price of a ticket, as well as informing customers about the number of ticket holdbacks when they go on sale.

Also in June, laws that prohibit ticket reselling in Japan came into force ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Passed by Japan’s parliament in December 2018, the legislation outlaws a number of actions in a bid to curb ticket scalping before the 2020 Olympics. These include the acquisition of tickets for the purpose of scalping and resale of tickets for sports events and concerts for more than the purchase price.

Those who break the law face up to a year in prison and fine of up to 1 million yen (£7,300/$9,200), or both. The laws apply to tickets and QR codes that designate seats or the name of spectators in advance. Invitation tickets and those distributed for free are not subject to the new law.

While ticket touting outside stadiums has been illegal for many years, the laws that came into action in June were designed to introduce restrictions on online sales for the first time.

Back in the US, three representatives reintroduced the ticketing transparency legislation, known as the BOSS Act, following the FTC workshop on the industry.

The federal BOSS (Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing) Act, first introduced in 2009, aimed to provide “transparency and regulation to the badly corrupted primary and second live events ticket marketplace”.

It was originally introduced after ticket holdback controversy during Bruce Springsteen’s Working on a Dream tour 10 years ago. It was later reintroduced in 2016 but did not gain enough support to pass it into law.

The BOSS Act is the sister bill to the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS), which bans the use of automated software to harvest live event passes across the US.

In June, it was said that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) could be given new powers to tackle consumer law without having to go through the courts.

Under plans unveiled by Business Secretary Greg Clark, the UK government will consult on giving the competition watchdog new powers to intervene earlier and would include being able to directly impose fines on firms for poor business behaviour.

It would act as a “powerful deterrent” to companies that are harming consumers with misleading claims, unfair terms and conditions and hard-to-exit contracts. The measures would also help the CMA to tackle bad practices in other consumer markets like secondary ticketing and unfair terms for care home residents.

A decision on the CMA’s new consumer protection powers has yet to be confirmed.

Click here to see the July 2019 review and here to see the May 2019 review.


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