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Viagogo fined €23.5m in Italy for resale breach

An investigation by regulator AGCOM found that Viagogo had listed tickets for 131 events at prices up to seven times above their face-value

By James Hanley on 27 Jun 2022

Damiano David of Maneskin


image © Bruno

Italy’s Communications Regulatory Authority AGCOM has fined Viagogo €23.5 million for breaking the country’s rules on secondary ticketing.

The decision, taken at an AGCOM Council meeting last week, followed an investigation by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency the Guardia di Finanza, which found the secondary ticketing platform had listed tickets for 131 events at prices up to six or seven times above their face-value.

Events included concerts for artists such as Maneskin, Vasco Rossi, Sting, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam, Placebo, Cesare Cremonini, Paolo Conte and Andrea Bocelli.

An amendment to Italian legislation, introduced to Italy’s 2017 budget law to criminalise ticket touting, prevents tickets being sold for commercial purposes or for above face value.

“The authority highlights that the practice of secondary ticketing has the effect of inflating the prices of tickets, increasing the barriers for the access of consumers and Italian citizens to cultural events, also to the detriment of the community of artists, event organisers and primary retailers,” concludes AGCOM. “This is of particular relevance at an important time for the events sector to recover live, after the forced interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping”

AGCOM has given Viagogo seven days to remove the illegal listings from its site, and the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has spoken out in support of the authority’s ruling.

“This is a substantial fine for Viagogo, and a clear requirement to remove illegal listings within seven days,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob.

“What is especially encouraging is the extensive investigation carried out by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency working closely with the Italian regulator AGCOM. Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping. If other enforcement authorities follow Italy’s example, the hope of a functional ticket resale market, with scalping largely relegated to the history books, could become a reality.”

A spokesperson for Viagogo responds: “We respect the decision of the AGCOM, however we are surprised by this fine because the Council of State has already raised ‘serious doubts’ that the law in question on secondary ticketing – and the related fines of AGCOM, including to Viagogo – are compatible with fundamental principles of EU Law on competition, free circulation of services and limitation of liability of pure intermediary platforms for illegal activity of its users.

“Indeed, Viagogo has already been held a ‘passive’ intermediary platform by the same Council of State in a previous final judgment, confirming that it does not sell the tickets and is not liable for the illegal sales of tickets carried out by the platform’s users. As a result, the Council of State has referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to decide whether the law at issue and the AGCOM fines are valid and enforceable according to such EU principles.

“Viagogo trusts that these pending proceedings will confirm it is not responsible for the allegations raised by the AGCOM and all fines will be annulled.”

The course of action comes just over a month after Australia’s full federal court dismissed an appeal by Viagogo against a ruling that the platform had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of concert and sports tickets.

 


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