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CTS Eventim is to appeal a shock decision by the German Cartel Office that prohibits the company's exclusive deals with promoters and box offices
By Jon Chapple on 04 Dec 2017
CTS Eventim is to take to the courts in a bid to overturn a surprise ban, announced today, on its use of exclusivity agreements with promoters and box offices in Germany.
The new ruling, by the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt), prohibits the Munich-based ticketing giant – which, with a 50–70% marketshare, is by far the German market leader, according to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2017 – of requiring partners to “only sell tickets exclusively or to a considerable extent via CTS’s eventim.net ticket sales system” – something it claims is an abuse of the company’s dominant market position.
According to the Bundeskartellamt, these “abusive exclusivity contracts with event organisers and advance booking offices” are shutting out competing ticketers and “encouraging a general trends towards further monopolisation” in Germany. Under today’s judgment, Eventim partners must have the option of selling at least 20% of their inventory annually via other ticket agencies, if their deal with the company is longer than two years. CTS has been given four months to comply with the ruling.
Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, says: “As the operator of the largest ticketing system in Germany, CTS Eventim holds a dominant position in the market. Under competition law, a company with such a market position has special obligations.
“Where CTS Eventim commits its contract partners to sell tickets exclusively via its own ticketing system, the company is abusing its market power to the detriment of competition. With our decision, substantial ticket quotas will be freed up for sale via competing ticketing systems.”
The case has echoes of Songkick’s legal complaint against Live Nation/Tickmaster, which similarly alleges the US market leader is abusing its “monopoly power”, including exclusivity arrangements with major venues, to stifle competition in that market.
“We regret that the agency has not adequately considered our strong counter-arguments”
In a statement issued today, CTS Eventim says it will seek legal redress, and accuses the Bundeskartellamt of making a biased decision that fails to take into account the changing face of ticketing in Germany.
“The decision of the Federal Cartel Office ignores the fierce competition in the market for ticket services, which is constantly increasing as a result of frequent market entries by digital providers from Germany and abroad,” it reads.
“Against this background, we have to assume that the Cartel Office has gone into this procedure with a preconceived notion that does not adequately reflect this development. All the investigations in the three-year proceedings were apparently aimed at confirming this belief.
“We regret that the agency has not adequately considered our strong counter-arguments, especially as they are supported by current studies and economic expert reports. [If] they had, the investigation would have led to a different outcome.”
“For these reasons,” the statement concludes, “we will not accept the decision of the Federal Cartel Office and [will] engage the courts to correct it.”
The Bundeskartellamt last month blocked CTS Eventim’s acquisition of promoter/agency Four Artists, also on competition grounds.
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