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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 00:02 GMT
Call to outlaw net ticket touts
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter

Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams' new tour has fallen foul of internet touts
Concert, theatre and sport promoters are calling for ticket touting to be made illegal, saying the internet has made it easier to rip fans off.

Major promoters are joining forces to make their case at a meeting with Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.

Some unofficial agencies and auctions deceive and defraud fans as well as charging high prices, promoters say.

But the government is not convinced a new law is needed and wants promoters to tackle the problem themselves.

Events from Live 8 to The Ashes and concerts by stars including Robbie Williams, Sir Cliff Richard and The Darkness have all recently fallen victim to online touts.

The fact that touts are allowed to trade at concerts is a disgrace
Harvey Goldsmith

Promoters say a new anti-touting law for the 2012 London Olympics should be extended to all events. Touting is currently only illegal at football matches to prevent hooliganism.

"The fact that touts are allowed to trade at concerts is a disgrace," Live 8 promoter Harvey Goldsmith told the BBC News website.

"If the government are proposing legislation for the Olympics then they must include entertainment."

Sellers under fire

Some unofficial online sellers have come under fire for not delivering paid-for tickets or providing a different seat, venue or date.

Sir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard complained when tickets for his shows were touted
"The internet has exacerbated the problem enormously because it's given everybody the potential to re-sell tickets," said Jonathan Brown, secretary of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers.

"While that may seem like a wonderful commercial opportunity, what's actually happening is quite the opposite in some cases, with people not receiving tickets.

"We just think it's brought the whole thing to a point where something's got to be done about it."

'Anxious experience'

Rob Ballantine, director of SJM Concerts and spokesman for the Concert Promoters' Association, said new legislation would make it easier to catch "unscrupulous" traders.

"If they were to make touting illegal, then we would be able to go after these people and take action against them," he said. "It's the deception and the scale of it."

Peter Tudor, head of Wembley Arena and chairman of the National Arenas Association, added that touting was no longer just "guys standing outside venues saying 'tickets for sale'".

"It's much more serious than that. It's making the whole experience of getting a ticket and going to a gig much less exciting and rather more anxious than it ought to be for people."

Other organisations at the meeting include eBay, the Society of London Theatre, the English Cricket Board and the All-England Lawn Tennis Club, which organises the Wimbledon championships.

'Not a rip-off'

I think it's preposterous to try to block the freedom of choice
Michael Rangos, which bills itself as the UK's largest independent ticket agency, has appeared on the BBC's Watchdog twice and is about to be prosecuted by trading standards officers for a third time.

"I think it's preposterous to try to block the freedom of choice and the fact that supply and demand should only ever determine the price of any commodity," managing director Michael Rangos said.

He insisted his company did not rip off or mislead customers.

A new law would be a last resort for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), but it has not been ruled out.

"We are holding a summit of key players in the industry to find out what's being done to stop ticket touting and to gather evidence on the issue," a DCMS spokesman said.

"We want to see if there's anything that can be done within the existing rules that will make it harder for organised touts to operate."

Should ticket touting be outlawed?
10 Nov 05 |  Have Your Say
Touting for trouble
15 Jun 05 |  Magazine

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