The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 17 August 2021
Reselling Regulations - The UK's competition watchdog has said ticket resale firms such as Viagogo and StubHub should face tighter rules. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said current laws meant it was not possible to act swiftly and effectively against touts. Another problem came from resellers who speculatively sold tickets they did not own, the regulator said.
The CMA has previously taken action against both Viagogo and StubHub, which have made changes as a result. In February, a year after Viagogo bought StubHub for $4.1bn (£3.1bn), the regulator told Viagogo to sell all of StubHub's business outside North America to satisfy competition concerns. The CMA's latest intervention comes as big music and sporting events are set to resume in the UK in the next few months after the Covid pandemic, fuelling fans' demand for tickets.
The watchdog's recommendations include a ban on platforms allowing resellers to sell more tickets for an event than they can legally buy from the primary market plus a new licensing system for secondary ticket sites that would enable an authority to act quickly to take down websites, withdraw a business's right to operate in the sector and impose substantial fines. While bulk-buying of tickets by professional resellers - who then sell them at inflated prices - may be illegal, swift and effective action by authorities is not possible under the current law, the regulator said.
Ring Fenced - Production of the new Lord of the Rings television series will move to the UK from New Zealand, Amazon Studios has confirmed. UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden welcomed the decision. He said: "Thousands of high-quality jobs all across the UK will be created and supported by The Lord of the Rings television series so this is very exciting news."
Amazon Studios, the film and TV arm of the technology giant, has already spent $465m (£336.5m) on the first season of the show. It said the shift in locations was part of a plan to expand its production space and consolidate its footprint in the UK.
Visa-free Touring - Equity is calling on the government to provide clarity on its claim that performers will not need visas for “short-term” work in 19 EU states, warning that the lack of further information risks “continued descent into farce”. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement on 4 August that it had negotiated with 19 member states, which “have confirmed UK musicians and performers do not need visas or work permits for short-term tours”. However, industry figures subsequently accused the government of failing to fix the issue and misleading artists. Now Equity has published an open letter sent to culture secretary Oliver Dowden, calling for clarification on visa-free touring.
Under The Hammer - A classical statue which featured in a performance by The Beatles is going under the hammer.The 5ft (1.5m) fibreglass Aphrodite was seen by up to 700 million TV viewers worldwide as the group took part in the first live satellite broadcast in 1967. The Beatles represented the UK as John Lennon wrote All You Need Is Love just days before to reflect the event's Summer of Love and flower power theme. The Greek goddess of love statue will be auctioned in Liverpool on 28 August and is estimated to fetch between £15,000 and £20,000.
Off Stage - Veteran US singer Tony Bennett has retired from performing at the age of 95, his son and manager has said. It brings the curtain down on a glittering seven-decade career for the crooner, who revealed earlier this year he has Alzheimer's disease. Bennett performed two sold-out shows with Lady Gaga at New York's Radio City Music Hall last week. His son Danny said the "hard decision" to cancel the remaining 2021 tour dates had been made on "doctors' orders". He told Variety: "His continued health is the most important part of this."
Farewell - Singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith has died in Nashville at age 68. The news was confirmed by her management company, Gold Mountain Entertainment. No cause of death or further information was provided, reportedly at Griffith's behest: "It is Nanci's wish that no statement or press release happen for a week following her passing." Her songs proved successful for other singers including Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss. RIP.
(Jim Evans)
17 August 2021

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