Live Music

UK Gov rejects CMA’s recommendations on secondary ticketing

The UK Government has rejected the Competition and Market Authority (CMA)’s recommendations on secondary ticketing, some 19 months after they were made, saying that it “does not currently intend to introduce further regulation in this area”. 

The Government added that it would instead focus on “its consumer protection measures in the recently introduced Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (DMCC) Bill”.

Back in 2021, the UK’s CMA originally called for a number of changes to be made including a ban on platforms allowing resellers to sell more tickets than they can legally buy from the primary market; ensuring platforms are fully responsible for incorrect information about tickets that are listed for sale on their websites and a new system of licensing for platforms that sell secondary tickets that would enable an authority to act quickly and issue sanctions such as taking down websites, withdrawing a business’s right to operate in the sector and the opposition of substantial fines.

FanFair Alliance, a UK-based campaign against industrial-scale online ticket touting, contacted TheTicketingBusiness, and revealed that its research had shown that speculative ticketing was still “rife”.

For example, three individuals revealed in an ITV News investigation last summer (which was aided by research from FanFair Alliance) that had been found to be responsible for over two thirds of festivals and outdoor events tickets listed on sale online by Viagogo were still active on the platform, according to the campaign.

Adam Webb, campaign manager, FanFair Alliance, said: “In August 2021, the Competition & Markets Authority published a series of common sense recommendations to the Government that aimed to further protect consumers from being ripped off by unscrupulous ticket touts and parasitical ticket resale sites.

“These included new measures to clamp down on the unlawful bulk-buying of tickets and large-scale speculative fraud, where rogue traders list tickets for sale that they do not possess. Research by FanFair Alliance has shown these problems remain rampant on certain secondary ticketing platforms.”

He added: “Nineteen months down the line, and, despite overwhelming evidence of continuing bad practice, the Government has today comprehensively rejected the CMA’s advice – without, we believe, consulting with experts, campaigners or the live music industry. The experiences of consumers appear to have been overlooked entirely. Although much progress has been made in recent years to tame the UK’s black market for tickets, FanFair Alliance shares the views of the CMA that further action is still required to tackle these evident and ongoing problems with online secondary ticketing.”

Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, who is also the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, said: “In August 2021, the CMA made it clear to the Government that a handful of additional safeguards could help reduce the scale of unlawful online ticket touting, and better protect consumers. Nineteen months on, and all their recommendations have been rejected. We are still struggling to understand why, and on what basis.

“Rather than improving the capacity of enforcement agencies to clamp down on malpractice, the Government has effectively given bad actors a free pass to continue acquiring tickets in bulk to popular events and to engage in speculative and fraudulent selling. These individuals can make extraordinary profits at the expense of ordinary fans who are left ripped off and out of pocket.

“The UK is rightly proud of its live event industry, but an uncontrolled black market risks harming the consumer experience and wreaking untold damage on the sector overall.”

Viagogo said in a statement: “The Government has been clear it supports a resale market for live events and that consumers should have the ability to buy and sell tickets in a secure and competitive marketplace. Viagogo provides a safe, regulated and CMA-compliant marketplace to do just that; connect millions of genuine ticket sellers to fans looking to enjoy great live events.

“We will continue to advocate for access, transparency and open marketplaces for event lovers, and we are committed to working with the CMA and other bodies to give ticket sellers and fans the experience they deserve.”