TDs to take action against ticket-touting amid U2 controversy

Fine Gael’s Noel Rock drafts Bill which would ban the resale of tickets above face value

U2 perform during the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, US. File photograph: Steve Marcus/Reuters

U2 perform during the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, US. File photograph: Steve Marcus/Reuters

 

Independent TD Stephen Donnelly and Fine Gael TD Noel Rock are to meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny to try and get his backing for a Bill which would tackle ticket-touting.

Mr Rock has drawn up a piece of draft legislation which would prohibit the resale of tickets for concerts and sporting events for more than their face value.

He told The Irish Times that the Bill could appear before the Dáil as early as the end of this week.

He said he had received cross-party support for the legislation, as well as the backing of many Independents.

Meanwhile, Mr Donnelly has sought legal advice from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) on how ticket resale websites impact on the ticketing market.

The moves were prompted by the mounting anger among U2 fans who were unable to buy tickets for the band’s Croke Park concert in July through Ticketmaster before they sold out on Monday morning.

The band is due to play just one date in Dublin on its new Joshua Tree tour.

Hundreds of tickets for the concert are now selling for as much as €890 on the Ticketmaster-owned ticket resale website Seatwave.

“I don’t know if the resale of tickets in this way is legal but I want the CCPC to look into it,” Mr Donnelly said.

“I am not saying what Seatwave is doing is breaking any laws, but it leaves consumers in a demonstrably worse position.

“If Seatwave was a consumer-lead platform that simply facilitated the resale of tickets by individuals who for one reason or another were unable to go to a concert and wanted to sell their tickets on securely, then it would be a real value-added service, but that does not seem to be what is happening here,” he said.

Mr Donnelly asked how the tickets could be on sale on Seatwave when ordinary consumers were not able to buy them at face value via Ticketmaster.

“I don’t know the answer to this question, which is why we need an investigation, as clearly consumers are being disadvantaged.”

Seatwave

Seatwave allows people to trade tickets securely. It insists it does not and never has sold tickets in its own right and merely facilitates third-party sellers.

However, it has been repeatedly accused of facilitating ticket-touting and it takes a percentage of the sale of each ticket resold.

Critics say it is in Ticketmaster’s interests to direct people to Seatwave.

“Here we have a scenario where the primary seller - in this case Ticketmaster - is facilitating the secondary sale through its platform Seatwave, so it has no incentive to curb ticket-touting,” Mr Rock said.

A Ticketmaster spokesman said the company did not give privileged access to the U2 tickets to Seatwave.

He also denied that Seatwave directly sold any of the tickets. He said all sales processed by Seatwave involved private individuals.

Asked how so many U2 tickets were available on Seatwave at substantial mark-ups when they were unavailable via Ticketmaster, the spokesman said: “U2’s Joshua Tree tour has been exceptionally popular. With artists of this stature, demand often far outstrips the supply of tickets.

“Ticketmaster is committed to the overall ticket-buying process to ensure artists get tickets into the hands of fans and never places tickets on secondary market sites.”

State support

Ticket resale companies have previously been actively courted by the State.

In the summer of 2014, the Viagogo Group, which operates viagogo.com, another ticket marketplace, opened a purpose-built international operations centre in Limerick with the support of the IDA.

Ticket for U2’s Croke Park concert were also on sale on the viagogo website, with the most expensive priced in excess of €1,300.

Mr Rock said he did not have any issue with either viagogo or Seatwave, but said the phenomenon of “people selling tickets at grossly-inflated prices needs to be stopped.

“The idea is to outlaw the sale of tickets at above face value. It won’t be a blanket solution to the problem of touting, but it will help.”