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Jowell Calls On Ticket Agencies To “Squeeze Out” Touts

LONDON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Ticket touts can be eradicated if venues and ticketing agencies work to blacklist bulk-buyers, operate better returns policies and limit the number of tickets that can be sold in a single transaction, U.K. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has claimed.

Chairing a recent summit on ticket touting, the minister refused to bow to pressure from theatre managers to introduce new laws banning the resale of tickets for West End shows, arguing instead that the sector must “squeeze out” touts itself.

A list of principles has been drawn up for the industry, which are to form the basis of guidelines covering terms and conditions, returns policies and primary allocation procedures.

Jowell commented: “I want to see ticket agencies squeezing ticket touts out of business to protect genuine fans from being frozen out of the market.

“This is the first phase in the battle to stamp out ticket touting. If we can stop bulk loads of tickets getting into the hands of touts, genuine fans will stand a better chance of getting tickets to see their favourite band or sports team.”

The government also wants secondary ticket agencies to provide more information about the original price of the ticket and its seat location, so that customers know what they are buying.

While it is illegal not to reveal such information at the time of sale, campaigners say current laws are rarely enforced. A new directive being implemented in 2007 is to address the issue but will fall short of making touting illegal.

Jonathan Brown, secretary of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, who attended the summit, told The Stage: “We want to see tough action on this and I think what we’ve got at the moment is very general and not specific enough. We’ll be looking, over the next three months, for more specific information on what these principles mean.”

He added: “There is existing legislation out there which needs to be better enforced.”

STAR says terms and conditions on the back of tickets can in some cases be used to prohibit their resale for commercial gain. The organisation has been asked to draw up model terms and conditions, which have now been submitted to the Office of Fair Trading for testing.