Don Foster MP*


New research revealed today by Don shows that the Government is ignoring the problem of exorbitant ticket touting on major cultural events.

Parliamentary Questions by Don show that the Government has not held formal discussions on touting, has done no research and has failed to issue any guidance to the industry.

Commenting, Don said:

“Big entertainment and sports events are often sold out within hours, leaving many real fans ticketless or forced into paying exorbitant prices.

“Organised ticket touting is blighting the enjoyment of the real fans yet the Government is doing nothing.

“Glastonbury’s ticket problems were big news. But the very day Glastonbury tickets went on sale, there were already tickets on eBay for a Madonna gig, which hadn’t even been put on sale. A day later, there were hundreds of tickets available at staggering prices.

“This is a million pound industry. Initial estimates show that touts could be making close to £1 million simply on eBay sales for Madonna’s gigs in London.”


Notes to Editors

Don Foster MP has today launched a LibDem ToutWatch horror story email account - - and has called on the Government to accept his five point tout plan:

1. Instruct the Live Music Forum to investigate the impact of ticket touts upon the live music industry (similar to the consultation carried out by the Victorian State Government in Australia)

2. Require touts to give details of the mark-up they are charging (a system successfully introduced in New York)

3. Encourage organisers to limit the number of tickets available in any one transaction

4. Promote a ‘free returns’ policy so ticket holders who can’t attend have the option of making sure their ticket is offered to other fans in a fair way

5. Encourage internet auction sites to clamp down on illegal ticket touting activity on their sites.

The Liberal Democrats are not proposing banning the reselling of tickets.
Some reselling of tickets by individual fans and licensed resellers is understandable. Rather it is essential to tackle touts profiteering at the expense of genuine fans and exploiting the market value belonging to the creative forces behind events.

1. Government Inaction

Don Foster MP asked the following Parliamentary Questions to find that the Arts Minister is doing nothing to tackle the blight of exorbitant touts:
Ticket Touting

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions her Department has had with (a) concert venues, (b) tour promoters, (c) artists, (d) music fans and (e) others regarding ticket touting; and if she will make a statement. [164482]

Estelle Morris: I have had no formal discussions with these groups on this issue.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what guidance her Department has issued to internet auction sites regarding ticket touts; and if she will make a statement. [164483]

Estelle Morris: I have issued no guidance to internet auction sites regarding ticket touts.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what research her Department has commissioned into the impact of ticket touting (a) in person, (b) through published advertisements, (c) via internet auction sites and (d) through other means on the live music industry in the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement. [164484]

Estelle Morris: None.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what instructions her Department has issued to the Live Music Forum regarding the impact of ticket touting on live music; and if she will make a statement. [164485]

Estelle Morris: None. The Forum's aims are to: maximise the take-up of reforms in the Licensing Act 2003 relating to the performance of live music; promote the performance of live music generally; monitor and evaluate the impact of the 2003 Act on the performance of live music; and make recommendations for further action. It will be up to the Forum to decide how best to achieve these aims.

The Home Office is yet to answer three ticket touting questions tabled by Don Foster MP , despite having had weeks to respond:

The Home Office have answered Don Foster’s touting question referring to football ticket sales. The answer [available on request] shows that the total number of prosecutions has declined massively since 2000 and successful prosecutions have declined year on year.

2. Legal Position

There is no offence for ticket touting in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. However, there are a number of legal restrictions on tickets sales:

(i). Restrictions on sale of tickets for football matches by unauthorised persons in either public places or for any designated matches [Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994]

(ii). Broader criminal law offences which can be associated with touting, such as theft, deception, obstruction or threatening behaviour.

(iii). In certain circumstances, the Price Indications (Resale of Tickets) Regulations 1994 apply which make it an offence to give a misleading indication of price.

However, these regulations do not obliged re-sellers of tickets to give an indication of the original price or mark-up if these were not printed on the original ticket.

(iv). Event organisers may impose conditions upon the sale of their tickets which can invoke other laws to tackle touting.

3. Many other Governments have taken action.

(i) There is an offence for ticket touting in Scotland.

(ii) The Victorian State Government in Australia produced a detailed consultation on ticket touting or ‘scalping’, Controlling Ticket Scalping and Improving Major Event Ticketing Practices: A discussion paper (July 2001).

There was also special legislation introduced to extend police powers to tackle ticket touts for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

(iii) The Bureau of Investor Protection and Securities division of the Office of the New York State Attorney General published a comprehensive investigation into ticket ‘scalping’ in New York in May 1999.

Now New York ticket sellers are required to be licensed, submit a bond of $1,000, print the mark-up on the ticket, display their licence in a public place and keep a record of all their transactions.

4. The Live Music Forum

(i) The Forum was launched by Arts Minister, Estelle Morris, on 5 January 2004. It is led by Feargal Sharkey, former Undertones star, who had a no. 1 solo hit with “A Good Heart these Days is Hard to Find”.

(ii) Sharkey stated he hoped his taskforce would “help develop, encourage and promote live music”.

5. Three Recent Case Studies

• Official Supply of Tickets
 Placed on sale at 8 pm on April 1, 2023 for £112.00.
• Restrictions
 Tickets were sold officially only via a telephone ticket line (0870 830 2004) and through the website address –
 Tickets sales were restricted to two per person and per telephone call.
 For each booking the name and address of each ticket holder was required. Organisers say proof of ID will be required to gain admission.
• Volume of Demand
 There are a total of 112,000 tickets.
 Organisers claim there were over 2 million unique user hits between 7 and 8 last night – and that was before the tickets went on sale! At one minute past eight over 300,000 hit the website and that level was sustained until well after 2.00am.
 The event is now sold out.
• Unofficial Supply
 Despite the extra security arrangements, tickets still appeared for sale on eBay, with one pair priced at £620.
 There are other companies selling tickets at a serious mark-up:

 There were also websites offering an alternative route to the Glastonbury ticket sales page, avoiding the traffic queuing via the Glastonbury tickets sales frontpage.
• The Gigs
 Madonna is appearing at c. 15,000 capacity Earl’s Court on 18th and 19th August 2004, and at c. 12,000 capacity Wembley Arena on 22nd, 23rd, 25th and 26th August 2004.
• Official Supply of Tickets
 Those for the gigs at Wembley Arena on 22nd, 23rd and 25th August 2004 went on sale on 2 April 2004.
 They were sold at or by a dedicated phone line.
 Official prices ranged from £75-150.
• Volume of Demand
 All gigs sold out within days.
• Unofficial Supply of Ticket
 eBay had over 100 tickets for marked-up resale hours after the tickets became available.
 Some tickets available before tickets official went on sale and some were offered for an additional date which had not even been advertised [Wembley Arena, Thursday 26th August 2004, two tickets at £500]
 A pair of Madonna tickets at Earls Court (18 Aug 2023) sold for an incredible £1,170!
• The Great Tout Rip-Off
 There are now 482 Madonna ticket listings on the UK eBay website (12.15pm Thursday, 15th April 2004)
 The overwhelming majority of listing are for a pair of tickets
 The top price pair of tickets is £2,000 (Earl’s Court, 19th Aug)
 This represents a mark-up of £925 per ticket – that’s over 500% of face value.
 Assuming the 482 listings equates to twice that number of tickets – 964 – touts could be earning close to £1 million pounds via eBay listing from one specific day months before the gig [964 tickets x £925 mark-up = £891,700]


The Gigs
Brixton Academy on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of June 2004

Official Supply of Tickets
Tickets went on sale on Saturday 7th February 2004.

There were available via the Brixton academy website or through a phone line.

Volume of Demand
On 7th February there were 210,000 hits on the Brixton Academies website.

The event was a sell-out and many genuine fans could not get hold of tickets.

Web Crash
The demand was such that the website crashing led to thousands of fans being debited money without receiving their tickets.

For many of these fans, hundreds of pounds were debited only to be returned much later without any interest accrued.

Unofficial Supply of Tickets

On the day tickets went on sale, they were being exchanged on eBay for up to £200 a pair.

This article published: 19/04/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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