In the latest of a series of sanctions against Spanish collection society SGAE, the national competition watchdog imposes a fine for abuse of dominant position
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CTS Eventim will appeal after being slapped with a €10m fine over an alleged illegal strategy to prevent rival companies obtaining tickets
By IQ on 19 Jan 2021
TicketOne, the market-leading primary ticket agency in Italy, has been fined €10 million by the Italian Competition Authority for alleged abuses of its dominant market position.
The latest judgment follows an investigation by the authority into TicketOne’s parent company, CTS Eventim, that first became public in 2019, when a handful of Italian promoters, led by Zed Entertainment’s Valeria Arzenton, alleged unfair competition on the part of Eventim-owned Friends and Partners (F&P).
Arzenton accused CTS Eventim/F&P of trying to strong-arm promoters and artists into ticketing contracts with TicketOne at the expense of non-Eventim operators – a claim strenuously denied by CTS Eventim, TicketOne, F&P and sister companies D’Alessandro e Galli, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti.
The verdict of the Competition Authority (known as the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, or AGCM, in Italian), published today (19 January), appear to back up Arzenton’s claims, finding that the ‘CTS Eventim-TicketOne group’ has created a “complex, abusive strategy” which prevents competing ticket sellers from obtaining a “particularly high proportion” (“quota particolarmente elevata”) of tickets for live music events.
In doing so, the group violated EU competition law, in particular Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, according to AGCM.
The authority further found that Eventim particularly sought to exclude TicketOne rival Ticketmaster, a relatively new entrant in Italy (and a non-exclusive ticketing partner of Arzenton’s Zed Entertainment), from the “relevant market”.
By preventing other ticket sellers from obtaining significant ticket inventory for shows organised by F&P, D’Alessandro e Galli, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti, all of which it acquired in a less than eight-month period in 2017–18, Eventim additionally caused harm to consumers, says AGCM, by limiting the choice of tickets available and allowing TicketOne to charge higher prices.
“CTS Eventim … are very confident that this illegal decision will also be overturned by the court”
In addition to the €10m fine, the authority has ordered CTS Eventim to grant TicketOne’s competitors a share of at least 20% of the tickets available for popular music shows organised by owned companies.
Arzenton welcomes the ruling as confirmation that “everything I was complaining about as true, in relation to the pressures and boycotts suffered” by Zed. “But now is the time to look ahead and work all together, as operators in this sector, to face the difficulties caused by this terrible pandemic,” she adds, “and be ready to start again in the name of culture and entertainment.”
In a statement provided to IQ, a CTS Eventim spokesperson refutes the ACGM ruling as being based on flawed data and says the company plans to appeal the verdict.
“TicketOne and CTS Eventim firmly reject AGCM’s claims that the group allegedly abused a dominant position,” they say. “On the basis of incorrect market definitions and in violation of essential procedural rules, the authority made a decision that should never have been made.
“Accordingly, TicketOne and CTS Eventim will appeal to the competent administrative court and are very confident, also with a view to the previous case law on decisions of the AGCM, that this illegal decision will also be overturned by the court.”
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