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Ticketopolists win backing for online tax

Online ticket levy wins MPs' blessing

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In today's report, MPs recognise the benefits of the secondary ticket market. They note that it may lead to lower prices, that it allows the promoters to dispose of tickets their agents can't sell, and provides a huge convenience for punters, who can shop 24 hours a day for tickets.

The Committee said it wants the secondary market to continue, and declared itself reluctant to intervene. But it did so anyway, giving credence to a long laundry list of grievances raised by the mega-promoters, including Harvey Goldsmith. Goldsmith wants to extend his huge market power in the primary market by banning the secondary market, and does so by conflating issues such as fraud with touting. Of course, there's already legislation in place to deal with fraud. But the ticketopolists want to fight fraud the cheap way: getting us to pay a tax, rather than using better technology or employing a few more people to check against abuse. And in this case, they've won an improbable victory.

The secondary ticket market is at a quite fascinating stage today. To use the naff word du jour, the internet has "democratised" ticket touting - touting has become a game anyone with a computer can play. But is this really so bad?

On two occasions last year, your reporter was able to buy tickets at less than face value, simply by waiting very late in the day to buy them in the secondary market. As this continues, and as punters get wise, the "day trading" internet ticket touts will leave the market, rueing their losses. There's no case at all that this market isn't working, that the public is being harmed, or that the mega-promoters need to pocket a tax for us.

If we're to follow Goldsmith's logic, second-hand bookshops are filthy "book touts" - and must be banned immediately. ®

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