Having booked its strongest international line-up to date and enlarged its capacity, Australia's Splendour In the Grass outdoor festival has this year initiated a new ticketing system which is intende

Having booked its strongest international line-up to date and enlarged its capacity, Australia's Splendour In the Grass outdoor festival has this year initiated a new ticketing system which is intended to foil scalpers.

Held July 22 - 23 in picturesque Byron Bay on the east coast, this year's bill includes Sonic Youth, Brian Wilson, the Scissor Sisters, DJ Shadow, Snow Patrol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well as Australian acts Wolfmother, You Am I, Grinspoon, Youth Group and Augie March.

From this year, festival promoters Secret Service and Village Sounds will only sell tickets via its www.splendourinthegrass.com Web site. Customers can buy up to nine tickets but have to provide a name and birth date for each ticket when they go on sale May 15. The information will be printed on the ticket, and checked against ID at the gate. Single day tickets have been axed in favor of full weekend entry passes.

The two-day ticket price has risen to A$160 ($112) from A$125 ($93.75) last year. Promoters say this is due to their doubling the size of the Belongil Festival site with the addition of a new field and other facilities. Crowd capacity is upped to 17,500 from 14,000.

Last year allocation sold out in 36 hours. Scalpers later sold tickets on for three times the face value via online auction site eBay.

Says Jessica Ducrou, GM of Byron Bay-based Village Sounds, "We were greatly disappointed with the obvious and calculated ticket scalping for the 2005 event which resulted in many people paying inflated prices to attend Splendour In The Grass."

She says the new system is loosely based on the model adopted in 2005 by Britain's Glastonbury organizers, which required an ID counterpart to the ticket for admission.

Scalping is becoming an issue at all major festivals, even at star-studded fund raisers such as January 2005's Wave Aid in Sydney which raised money for victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Ticket touting however is not illegal, and eBay's Australian operators are reluctant to take action against alleged scalpers without proof.

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