The U.K.'s Concert Promoters Association (CPA) has entered the secondary ticketing market with a new online service, describing the move as a response to the "lack of imminent decisive government action on ticket touts."

It follows a government announcement last week (Billboard.biz, Feb. 20), in which sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe called on the ticketing and events industry to embrace methods - such as venues requiring ID - that would reduce the number of tickets ending up in the hands of scalpers or touts. A consultation was launched on the problem, amid concerns in government that consumers often have no choice but to pay over-the-odds in the secondary market for popular events.

Although it welcomed the consultation, the CPA made clear in a statement that it has "passionately lobbied the government and Department for Culture, Media and
Sport and has championed the cause to protect consumers," but noted that government had previously ruled out intervening to make scalping illegal.

The new Web site, OfficialBoxOffice.com, launched today (Feb. 24) and is described as a secondary ticket exchange run by the primary market. It is powered by See Tickets.

Only last month at the MIDEM music conference in Cannes, See Tickets chairman Nick Blackburn spoke of money going out of the business, as fans spent less on primary tickets because of the cost of tickets on the secondary market.

"See has not bought into the secondary market," said Blackburn during a panel discussion. "I just don't believe it's right."

This new service suggests a change of mood in the primary ticket community, with the intention to take business away from the resale sites.

Every ticket on the CPA site will be listed by location to help identify it as a genuine ticket, and full ticket details will be compulsory. There is also a pledge from the promoters that anyone let down by the service will get into the concert in question or receive a refund.

"The CPA have campaigned on behalf of music fans to try and get the government to outlaw ticket touting," said CPA spokesman Rob Ballantine. "The government has refused to do this, so the secondary market is here to stay. We are powerless to police this as it is rife with fraud and week after week fans are being ripped off by purchasing fraudulent tickets. We are therefore launching a site that will have the most robust system possible to minimise the chance of fans buying non-existent or misrepresented tickets."

Sellers will receive 100% of the price at which they set the ticket, discouraging them from using secondary ticket sites that charge a commission.

The CPA said that if there was a change in the law to outlaw ticket touting, then OfficialBoxOffice.com will close the site in its current format. Instead, it will become a fan-to-fan exchange with prices set at the face value.

Ballantine added: "We can't fix the problem - the government can and we hope the consultation launched this week will see them change their stance on touting. What we have done to protect fans is set up a transaction site to be operated 'at cost' rather than 'for profit.'"

See Tickets will charge a 12.5% booking fee for their normal costs and the costs of establishing the site. The CPA said that income generated by the site will go towards the continued campaign against ticket touting and to improve the live concert industry for the fans, artists and promoters.

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