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The Great Ticket Scandal

03:01 PM Friday 2/24/12 | |

About two-thirds of all tickets on secondary ticketing sites are not being offered by fans but supplied by bulk purchasers and the promoters of the shows, according to a UK television documentary aired Feb. 23.

Two reporters from Channel 4’s “Dispatches” went undercover at Viagogo’s London office to lift the lid on how the UK’s ticket resale business operates.

The investigative documentary – titled “The Great Ticket Scandal” – was screened a day after Viagogo failed to get a High Court injunction to prevent its airing.

Viagogo UK director Edward Parkinson said the injunction was intended to prevent customer information from being made public.

The programme contained allegations that UK concert promoters including Live Nation, SJM Concerts, Metropolis, 3A and MCD are supplying tickets direct to secondary sites.

“We’d probably all prefer it if the secondary market didn’t exist but the genie’s out of the bottle,” Paul Latham, LN’s international chief ops officer, told Pollstar the day after the programme aired.

“The promoters take the risk and the artists do the performance, so why wouldn’t we want a slice of the extra money that's being made from it – rather than see it go to touts and profiteers.”

Latham also said Live Nation has never given an allocation to a secondary ticketer without the act or its management knowing the details and giving their consent.

The “Great Ticket Scandal” claimed that – in addition to their allocations – the major resale sites are slipping through the nets that primary ticket-sellers such as Ticketmaster put in place to prevent bulk buying.

It said that they have teams of buyers using piles of credit cards registered to different addresses.

The camera focused on a wad of credit cards on the desk of a Viagogo staffer, who told the undercover reporter that this was information that shouldn’t be shared with the public.
Seatwave chief Joe Cohen released a statement saying his company doesn’t buy any tickets for resale.

“We do allow our employees to do so – it helps them understand what we do and improve our service – but they can only do so under strict guidelines,” he explained. “Employees cannot buy or sell during business hours, or while in the Seatwave offices, nor can they use Seatwave equipment to do so.”

Much of the programme’s content may not have surprised people working in the live music business, but it sparked a torrent of public comment.

It suggested that the bulk buying of tickets as soon as they go on sale means the so-called fan-to-fan sites are actually competing directly with real fans to buy tickets.

It also begged the question of what happens to the VAT, income tax and performance royalties due from the extra revenue.

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