Hong Kong gigs

Entertainers in Hong Kong call for strong ticket scalping penalties and outlawing automated technology that enables large amounts of tickets to be resold

Sweeping proposals submitted to officials by association of performance professionals that claims its members organise some 98 per cent of mega pop concerts in city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 May, 2018, 7:36pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 May, 2018, 10:22pm

Showbiz professionals in Hong Kong are calling for ticket scalping penalties to increase by a factor of 1,400 and the outlawing of automated technology that enables large amounts of tickets to be resold.

The Performing Industry Association also urged officials to intensify their monitoring of online platforms to ban the resale of tickets in their sector.

The group representing local entertainers submitted its sweeping proposals to the government on Thursday in the wake of ticket scalping across the city.

It claimed its members organise some 98 per cent of the mega pop concerts held in Hong Kong.

An outcry over scalping erupted recently after tickets for some popular shows were snapped up and resold for as much as nearly 20 times the original price. In April, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said officials would consider making ticket scalping a criminal offence for performances held at government venues.

Association vice-chairwoman Lisa Hui Ping-sum called on Hong Kong to follow Australia’s example. The government of the state of Victoria had proposed that anyone selling tickets for more than 10 per cent above its value would cop a fine up to A$475,000 (US$358,500).

“The current fine in Hong Kong, at HK$2,000, is just too low,” she said, referring to the penalty for scalping tickets at private venues under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance.

The ordinance does not apply to facilities run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, such as the Hong Kong Coliseum, which is one of the city’s most popular venues for pop concerts.

“Most scalped tickets are traded in online resale platforms, enabling scalpers to control the market and sometimes shore up prices by spreading rumours,” Hui added. “There should be laws to monitor the operation of such platforms.”

There is no reason to say there is not much Hong Kong can do
Lisa Hui Ping-sum, Performing Industry Association

She also called on officials to take reference of a move in Britain to stem ticket scalping. Touts there are now banned from using bots to bypass the maximum number of purchasable tickets.

“Many overseas countries are taking action against ticket scalping,” she said. “There is no reason to say there is not much Hong Kong can do.”

But the association opposed the idea of requiring buyers to give their names and have them checked before being admitted to shows.

“That would only mean hours-long queues,” Hui said.

Association chairwoman Florence Chan Sock-fun explained that the group’s proposals were aimed at not only protecting the sector’s own interests, but also those of concertgoers.

“When customers buy scalped tickets at a high price, the extra money they pay does not mean they get more entertainment,” Chan said.

The association also urged officials to build more venues for concerts and performances.