A Parliamentary select committee has described the inflated prices in the secondary ticket market as "unfair", but MPs have stopped short of recommending government intervention saying this "should only be considered as last resort".

The Culture, Media and Sport select committee published its Ticket Touting report today, which advises the U.K. government how to respond to concerns about the secondary market.

The report states that the internet has increased the opportunities for large profits to be made by businesses and consumers who make no contribution to staging the events for which tickets are sold on. However, the committee concluded that "a voluntary solution is infinitely preferable to statutory regulation".

The committee says that while the unfairness of touting needs to be addressed, they have "reservations about the criminal law being used as a way of supporting organizers' efforts to select the audiences for their events, essentially as an aid to their self-policing of touting".

The Resale Rights Society (RSS), which is backed by music managers, songwriters and music publishers, welcomed the committee's backing of its proposal for a kitemark scheme for secondary ticketing sites to protect consumers, and a levy to return some of the profits back to the artists.

The RSS is seeking to license the unregulated secondary ticket market, including sites such as eBay, Viagogo, Seat Exchange, Seatwave and GetMeln. In evidence to the committee, Seatwave insisted that it was a marketplace, not a tout.

The lack of blanket refunds for unwanted tickets has been used as a justification by ticket exchange sites for their service. Viagogo's submission to MPs was that "until 100% refunds are available, right up until the day of the event, consumers will recoup their money through re-sale of their unusable tickets."

While conceding that a blanket refund policy may not be realistic, the MPs today stated that the limited returns service for those seeking to avoid a loss on the purchase of unwanted tickets is "not a satisfactory alternative" and "should be improved".

Nevertheless, the committee was strongly critical of those secondary ticket sellers who indulge in suspect practices and urged the new industry "to clean up their act by, at the very least, not advertising tickets which cannot possibly be in their or their customers' possession at the time."

The committee adds that it would "welcome an across the board commitment not to list tickets distributed free of charge, for example for charity events, to particular attendees, such as children or the disabled".

MPs now want to bring in representatives from the secondary market to the ticket touting summits held by the Dept. for Culture, Media and Sport, and they stress that "more can be done, and should be done, to seek a voluntary solution". The committee adds that more work needs to be done to establish the proportion of tickets entering the secondary market and how they got there.

It also commends the effort to devise a way in which the industry could endorse self-regulated secondary ticket exchanges in return for a share of the profits made on secondary sales.

"We look to the secondary ticket market to adopt codes to put a stop to unacceptable practices such as the sale of free tickets or those reserved for particular deserving groups," says committee chairman John Whittingdale in a statement. "We also welcome the latest moves to obtain a more general agreement to allow artists and sporting bodies to get some benefit from the resale of tickets to their events in return for accepting the legitimacy of those involved in this secondary market."

"We welcome the committee's backing for our campaign to clean up the secondary ticketing market and ensure that music fans and musicians get a fair deal," says RSS chairman-elect Marc Marot.

Marot says the RSS is already working with some secondary ticket firms, and he warns that for "less reputable sites" who may resist regulation, "the game is up".

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