The Culture, Media and Sport Committee held a one-off evidence session on 16 November 2016 into the ticketing markets as the Committee was aware of the distortion of the ticketing markets caused by the use of technology (bots and software) to 'harvest' large numbers of tickets as soon as they went on general sale—thus restricting availability to fans and pushing up prices of any tickets available for re-sale.
Close relationships between primary and secondary market sellers
The evidence session, however, has shed a light on much more far-ranging and disturbing factors in the market, including clear indications of too close relationships between those selling tickets on the primary market and sellers on the secondary market.
Witnesses’ failure to give satisfactory answers to the Committee’s questions about where companies’ main profits are made, the possibility of even Chinese walls between parts of the same company, and the willingness of the ticket selling companies to even try to identify, let alone bar, large-scale ticket touts and fraudulent sellers have led us to conclude that a fuller investigation of the whole area of ticketing is needed.
Banning bots and further action
The Secretary of State is holding a round table on this area at the end of the month. It is to be decided how best to take the issues forward once we know the outcome of this and in light of the conclusion of a Competition and Markets Authority investigation, expected shortly, into whether ticket companies are complying with the law. In the meantime, the Committee intends to write to the Secretary of State urging her to study the submitted evidence regarding the under-reporting of income by known touts and to raise this with HMRC as an area which warrants their investigation.
The one area of unanimity among our witnesses was that some good might be done by the banning of the use of bots. We intend to table an amendment on Report Stage of the Digital Economy Bill later this month to effect this.