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Hong Kong economy

Warnings of hours-long queues at Hong Kong concerts if ticket buyers forced to give names

Industry professionals say plan to combat scalping is unworkable and officials must instead step up punishments

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 April, 2018, 6:49pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 April, 2018, 8:48pm

Music industry professionals have warned that a plan to combat Hong Kong’s black market in concert tickets by requiring buyers to give their names would mean hours-long queues for identity checks at gigs and ballooning administration costs.

Officials should instead toughen up the punishments for scalping, industry insiders said, and widen the regulations to cover government venues currently exempt from the law – a pledge made earlier by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Ticket scalping at private venues which hold entertainment licences is a criminal offence, but the penalty under the city’s Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance is limited to a fine of HK$2,000 (US$255) per offence.

The ordinance does not apply to venues run by the government’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, such as the popular Hong Kong Coliseum.

The issue became a subject of debate following complaints among internet users who had failed to obtain seats for a show by popular stand-up comedian Dayo Wong Tze-wah in July and a concert next month by Taiwanese band Mayday, despite having queued for days outside ticket offices before sales began.

Calls for real name system for showgoers in Hong Kong so scalpers can’t profit from exorbitant ticket resales

Fans have called on the government to stipulate tickets must be purchased using a buyer’s name.

But Chow Kim-hung, marketing and promotion manager for record company Wow Music, said on Sunday during a forum broadcast by RTHK that a name system would not be suitable for large venues such as the coliseum, which can seat 12,500 people.

“It would waste a lot of time and resources and require every showgoer to be very cooperative,” Chow said.

Administration would be another hurdle, he added. Wow had once asked buyers to fill in a Google form with their personal information for a show at a venue with a capacity of about 1,000, Chow said, and it took a team of a dozen people a month to process all the information.

“You can imagine how long it would take to use the system for a much larger venue,” he said.

After scalpers snap up tickets for comedian Dayo Wong and Taiwanese band Mayday, Carrie Lam promises crackdown

Lisa Hui Ping-sum, vice-chairwoman of the Performing Industry Association, said a name system would require identity checks at larger venues taking two to three hours.

And Canto-pop singer Peter Cheung Shung-tak said it would most affect lesser known performers struggling to build a fan base, who often reserved tickets for fans clubs.

They all agreed however on the need to increase scalping penalties and widen the rules to cover government venues.

Hui added that the government should regulate second-hand ticket selling websites.

The Post earlier found that prices for tickets to Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi’s concerts from May 4 to 6 had reached HK$27,000 on resale site Viagogo. The original prices ranged from HK$480 to HK$1,080.

Music lover and avid concertgoer Lai Sin-yee said: “Ticket scalping has become increasingly serious in recent years. It’s organised crime ... It pains me to see scalpers holding so many tickets and pushing prices up to a crazy level.”