Ticket touting proposals lack Government fans

Heather Humphreys hasn’t yet bought the T-shirt for proposed resale curbs

U2 perform at Croke Park in July 2017. Tickets for the sold-out gig appeared within minutes on Ticketmaster-owned secondary site Seatwave. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

U2 perform at Croke Park in July 2017. Tickets for the sold-out gig appeared within minutes on Ticketmaster-owned secondary site Seatwave. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The scourge of ticket-touting has been a regular trigger for fan despair in recent years, with the above-average level of resales for U2 and Coldplay’s Croke Park gigs last summer sparking particular criticism.

Inflated prices on tickets that appear on resale sites within minutes after events have sold out have also prompted counter-measures from artists such as Ed Sheeran who are all too aware that their young devotees may be paying over the odds for the pleasure of attending their concerts. But what is the Government doing about this profiteering?

The question (from Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall) arose in the Dáil on Thursday, two days after a Bill sponsored by Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan was discussed at an Oireachtas committee meeting with officials from the department headed by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys.

Legislators

Quinlivan’s Bill would make it illegal to resell tickets at anything more than 10 per cent higher than the original face value – a law that could somewhat dent the business model of “secondary ticketing sites” in this market.

The issue has been of interest to legislators for some time, with Quinlivan’s Bill following an earlier effort by Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, which was co-sponsored by then Independent TD Stephen Donnelly, who has since joined Fianna Fáil.

Department officials weren’t exactly waving their phone torches at the prospect of legislation, however. They were keen to stress, among other things, that capping resale prices won’t completely curb ticket touting, that the number of entertainment events per year that see significant reselling was “generally no more than 10”, and that fans would still be disappointed by their inability to obtain tickets for high-demand events.

Reselling sites

They also observed that reselling sites offer consumer protections that street touts do not, that capping prices might somehow affect tourism (a “bit of a stretch”, Quinlivan responded) and that if the Republic goes it alone on legislation, secondary ticket sales would merely migrate to markets without price caps.

Quinlivan was not impressed. Nor was Shortall especially convinced by the answer given to her by Minister of State Pat Breen, who noted that Humphreys was finalising proposals for legislation, but also deployed phrases like “a number of considerations” and “unintended and undesirable consequences”.

With no timeframe forthcoming, it seems the Government is not exactly screaming to introduce anti-touting laws.