Britain's Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers is raising the stakes in its fight against online scalpers by questioning eBay's role in the illegitimate ticketing business.

Britain's Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers is raising the stakes in its fight against online scalpers by questioning eBay's role in the illegitimate ticketing business.

During a panel session Saturday (March 12) at the International Live Music Conference in London, STAR disclosed that it has arranged a meeting with the auction Web service early next month to discuss the matter. Sources say eBay executives declined to participate in the panel, titled "New Technology -- Just the Ticket?"

The U.K. Office of Fair Trading earlier this year issued a report on the national ticketing industry, focusing on the activities of secondary agents. The OFT cited instances of tickets available on eBay at mark-ups of 600%. STAR -- whose members include Ticketmaster U.K., See Tickets and Last Minute Network -- applauded the report.

During the ILMC session, Pete Wilson, director at concert promoter 3A Entertainment, highlighted the ticketing abuse at eBay and the drastic moves needed to counter-attack. "There is a lot of fraud out there," he said. "After a recent Kylie Minogue show went on sale, hundreds of tickets were being resold on eBay within 24 hours. So we took the decision to consult the venues, which scanned their bookings. And within the next 48 hours, all the eBay tickets were canceled and refunded."

Other industry experts recommended print-at-home technology or mobile-phone barcodes as possible measures against illicit ticket sales.

Mobiqa, a British-based technology provider, uses text messaging to distribute tickets and barcodes via cell phones. Technical director Ronnie Forbes told the ILMC audience that although its system is still in the early stages, the technology is installed at venues in the United Kingdom, Ireland, North America, Australia, Malaysia and South Africa. Mobiga is also developing multimedia versions in which the mobile ticket and barcodes are enhanced with videoclips of the artist.

In other news, Ticketmaster says it wants to introduce its "sanctioned auctions" program in Europe. Ticketmaster debuted its ticketing auction in the United States for a Sting charity show in October 2003.

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