Department for Culture, Media and Sport
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Put the fans first, Burnham urges ticket sellers

Put the fans first, Burnham urges ticket sellers

DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release (037/2008) issued by The Government News Network on 21 April 2008

Event organisers need to do much more to ensure that tickets get to real fans instead of expensive resale websites, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said today.

The Government is now looking to event organisers, promoters and their ticket agents to work together to find new ways of making sure that tickets are properly distributed without fans routinely paying over-the-odds. These improvements can happen without the burden of new regulation, by criminalising fans who want to buy tickets for sold-out events or sell tickets that they cannot use.

But the Government remains concerned that some events are of such importance that some restrictions on resale may be necessary. More work will now be done to explore whether it is in the public interest to prevent resale of tickets to events of national significance.

Andy Burnham said:

"Fans are the lifeblood of our sporting and entertainment culture, and young fans keen to get to events are often the most exploited. Event owners and promoters need to work harder to ensure that real fans get tickets at a fair price. We've seen good examples of how this can work at major events. The whole industry now needs to take action to ensure that distribution is fair and effective.

"The re-selling of tickets at inflated prices doesn't add anything to the cultural life of the country, but instead leaches off it and denies access to those who are least able to afford tickets.

"The days of turning up at the box office to buy tickets have been swept away by online ticket sales, but we have also seen a growth in the secondary market with tickets block-booked by people whose sole aim is to sell on at a profit.

"Event organisers have been telling me how important it is that tickets get to real fans. I now want to see the industry find new ways of making sure that tickets get to the right people.

"But there are some sporting and cultural events of such significance to the nation that we may need to prevent people from selling tickets on at a profit. We will work with the industry to find a way to achieve this on a voluntary basis."

The Government will now:

* push for a voluntary agreement that tickets for certain 'crown jewel' events will not be sold on the secondary market. This will be similar to the list of sporting events that must be available to free to air television, and is likely to include sporting world cups and other high profile events; and

* work with the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) to deliver a new code of principles for the ticketing market that meets consumers' needs. This is likely to include a limit on the number of tickets sold to each person; clear refund policies; improved distribution, allocation and exchange arrangements; and fair terms and conditions.

The Government has consistently said that legislation is a last resort, and this remains the case.

The Government has recommended these measures to help reform the ticket market in response to an earlier report on ticket touting by the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee.

The Government agrees with the Select Committee's conclusions that the secondary sale of free tickets (such as those for charitable events and events which receive public subsidy such as the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend) should be prevented. The Government has already reached an agreement with leading operators including eBay that sales of tickets for such events will be prevented in the future. Measures are being developed to ensure that tickets for the Olympic Games are not resold which would be in breach of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006. Legislative controls on ticket resale for football is already in place to prevent public disorder.

Examples of events of national significance are expected to include large sporting events such as the rugby and cricket world cups and Commonwealth Games. Other events that might fall within this category are significant one-off public events like Live8.

Consumer protection laws are already in place to protect consumers from misleading or unfair sales practices. Enforcement authorities such as the Insolvency Service will continue to take appropriate action against those who harm consumers. Further advice can be obtained from the Office of Fair Trading or Consumer Direct.

Notes to editors

* The Government's response to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee report on ticket touting can be found at:

* The Committee's report is available at:

* Part IV Broadcasting Act 1996 enables the Secretary of State to draw up and publish a list of protected events that must be made available to free to air television on fair and reasonable terms.

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