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The court affirmed a ruling dismissing the €10.9m fine imposed on TicketOne in 2021 for alleged abuses of its dominant market position
By James Hanley on 29 Nov 2022
The Italian Supreme Administrative Court (CdS) has ruled in favour of TicketOne in its appeal against a €10.9 million fine for alleged abuses of its dominant market position.
The original 2021 ruling by the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) had previously been dismissed and the fine annulled by a Lazio court in March this year.
It followed an investigation into the market leader’s parent company CTS Eventim and related to complaints by venue operator Zed Entertainment, which accused TicketOne of “an abusive strategy of an exclusionary nature” involving complex deals, contracts and acquisitions.
The dispute first became public in 2019 when a handful of Italian promoters, led by Zed’s Valeria Arzenton, alleged unfair competition on the part of Eventim-owned Friends and Partners (F&P).
“The CdS found that the ICA had in fact failed to examine sufficiently the applicants’ defence of the existence of a lawful purpose pursued by the acquisitions”
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.
According to the CdS, reports Lexology, the contested practices – in particular the acquisitions and related exclusivity clauses — “may plausibly be objectively justified” and do not necessarily result in an unlawful restriction.
“The CdS found that the ICA had in fact failed to examine sufficiently the applicants’ defence of the existence of a lawful purpose pursued by the acquisitions,” it adds.
However, last month’s judgement suggests the matter is not yet closed.
“The CdS confirmed that the retaliatory conduct and boycotts implemented against other operators such as Zed, may in fact constitute abuses of dominance requiring further investigations by the ICA and possible revision of the fine initially imposed on CTS Eventim – Ticketone,” it adds.
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