Viagogo is ticket industry's 'last boil to lance'


Ed Sheeran's promoter claims Viagogo is the ticketing industry's last "major boil left to lance".

While giving evidence to a Commons hearing on the issue of secondary ticketing, Stuart Galbraith said the website was a part of the problem.

The committee session came the day after Viagogo said it would be taking legal action against Galbraith.

The ticketing agency was asked to attend Wednesday's hearing but did not appear.

Viagogo's website allows users to resell tickets at a price of their choosing.

In his comments to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, Galbraith praised rival website Ticketmaster for action it has taken in its approach to ticket reselling.

Galbraith, who runs Kilimanjaro Live, said it "welcomed wholeheartedly" Ticketmaster's aim to adopt a more digital approach - where tickets are issued electronically, making them less readily available to be "touted and moved on at a higher price".

"They're reacting to public pressure, campaigns and now legislation that's being enacted. We're starting to clear up the acne that has blighted our industry and I think we're coming to the point where we've just got one major boil left to lance... Viagogo."

Viagogo has been approached by the BBC for a response to these comments.

Image source, House of Commons
Image caption,
Stuart Galbraith giving evidence at Wednesday's committee hearing

Many in the music industry have criticised resellers. In April the manager of the Arctic Monkeys, Ian McAndrew, called on the government to shut down Viagogo after tickets for the band's upcoming UK tour appeared on the site for as much as £2,200.

Earlier on Wednesday, Damian Collins - the chair of the DCMS select committee - criticised the secondary ticketing platform for not attending the hearing, which would look into the site's practices.

Viagogo confirmed in a letter to Mr Collins that its head of business development and sales, Cristopher Miller, would not give evidence to MPs, citing legal advice.

The company announced on Tuesday it was sueing Kilimanjaro Live, claiming that Galbraith's firm set up fake Viagogo stalls during Ed Sheeran's 2017 tour.

Viagogo says Kilimanjaro Live voided genuine tickets bought on their website and told fans to buy new ones - a claim Galbraith denies.

The company also has active legal proceedings against the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA).

'Gross discourtesy'

In the letter to Mr Collins, Viagogo's Prabhat Shah wrote: "We have not taken this decision lightly and understand how serious it is not to be present this afternoon."

Mr Shah added the CMA had rejected Viagogo's request not to consider any statements made in the hearing to constitute a breach of any of its non-disclosure provisions, or a waiver of its without prejudice privilege in the context of the investigation.

Mr Collins responded: "We do not accept Viagogo's arguments for failing to appear today. Mr Miller has no valid reason not to attend and answer our questions on secondary ticketing.

"Consumers deserve answers to the huge volume of concerns about secondary ticketing abuse. It is hard not to view this eleventh-hour withdrawal cynically."

"Viagogo's non-attendance is a gross discourtesy, the more so given the company's failure to attend last year," the MP added.

In a statement the CMA said: "We have never objected to Viagogo's attendance at today's session, nor did we object to Viagogo discussing the contents of its correspondence with us during our investigation. In particular, the CMA did not say that parliamentary privilege could not apply, and made clear that Viagogo could seek to claim privilege if it felt it did apply.

"However, we have now begun court proceedings and there may be restrictions on whether other information could be shared or discussed, in particular where it relates to third parties. Viagogo asked for certain blanket assurances in relation to disclosing this potentially sensitive information, which the CMA did not consider it appropriate to give."

Resellers have been accused of misleading fans by claiming they are official sellers of tickets, overcharging buyers or selling tickets that are invalid if they are resold.

Viagogo is run by American Eric Baker. He founded StubHub with university classmate Jeff Fluhr and they sold the company to eBay in 2007 for $304m (£235m).

Mr Baker then moved to London to set up Viagogo, which is owned by a Delaware-based venture called Pugnacious Endeavors.

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