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Eventim’s TicketOne fined for anti-competitive behaviour

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.

Competitors accuse Italian promoters of foul play (updated)

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.”

AGCM has previously been forced to return money to TicketOne, having refunded the company €1m after a court found it was wrong to claim TicketOne had facilitated unlawful ticket resale.

 


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Competitors accuse Italian promoters of foul play (updated)

Update (20 May): Arzenton and Zed have responded to Friday’s story, telling IQ the company will be only too “pleased to show the Italian public prosecutor” all documents relating to the allegations against F&P and TicketOne. Zed Entertainment’s full statement is below.

Having learnt only from TicketOne, Di and Gi, Friends & Partners, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti’s joint press release issued on May 15 that CTS Eventim and its partners have brought action against Dr Valeria Arzenton, it is fitting to highlight that Dr Valeria Arzenton will be pleased to show the Italian public prosecutor all the documents her statements to the Italian press are based on.

These documents are evidence of the serious and dangerous happenings denounced by Dr. Arzenton and others to the press.

As you can infer from the AGCOM document n. 12/2019, available here since March 25 2019, the prosecuting companies’ behaviour and management are still being looked into by the Italian Competition Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato) as part of the abuse of dominant position investigation opened by the authority itself against CTS Eventim and its partners.

Dr Valeria Arzenton and Zed will firmly continue to go public and denounce all the behaviours damaging their reputation and companies, free competition and market and the audiences.

 


CTS Eventim-controlled promoters Friends and Partners (F&P), Vivo Concerti, Vertigo and Di and Gi, and ticketing company TicketOne, are taking legal action following claims by competitors that F&P chief executive Fernandino Salzano traded unfairly, made public in a series of reports by TV channel Striscia la Notizia.

The action comes after an investigation by Italian antitrust authority AGCM into alleged abuse of market position by the Eventim companies. The regulator’s precautionary phase resulted in a positive outcome for the companies.

F&P and the other Eventim companies under investigation have refuted all claims made by rivals and have now announced they are taking immediate legal action.

In the first of a series of televised reports, Zed Entertainment co-founder Valeria Arzenton anonymously claimed that Friends & Partners had hijacked a co-promotion of singer Alessandra Amoroso between the two companies. Zed alleges F&P advertised tickets to the show – exclusively through TicketOne – without their consent, and withheld outstanding monies owed as bargaining chips “to negotiate future conditions”.

“There are many Italian colleagues who are in the same situation and who are afraid to speak out

A second report featured concert promoter Roberto Iacobino, who previously worked with Salzano. “Only in Italy is there a company like F&P that does exactly what it wants,” he said, querying why authorities had not investigated market abuses by both F&P and TicketOne.

In a follow up interview with Striscia la Notizia, Arzenton – having revealed her identity – spoke of a “violent” response by Friends & Partners. “We are experiencing a total embargo,” she told reporter Max Laudadio. The day after the initial broadcast, all F&P dates in Zed venues were cancelled.

“I think it’s a violent show of force, but it won’t stop me,” says Arzenton. “There are many Italian colleagues who are in the same situation and who are afraid to speak out.”

F&P, TicketOne, D’Alessandro e Galli, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti say the news reports provide “an incorrect, misleading and defamatory version of the commercial activities carried out by TicketOne and by promoters Friends & Partners, Vivo Concerti, Vertigo, Di & Gi.”

“What is stated in the report provides an incorrect, misleading and defamatory version of commercial activities”

The companies state that the AGCM investigation has been initiated by “two operators in the sector with the aim of obtaining undue competitive advantages to the detriment of TicketOne and the Promoter mentioned above [F&P]”.

The four promoters also stress that, while forming part of the same group, each operates independently of the other.

The companies say that the “harmful, deeply misrepresented and distorted statements” have forced them “to act in penal proceeding against Mrs Arzenton”.

Eventim acquired a 60% stake in Friends and Partners in 2017, and has majority stakes in fellow Italian promoters Vertigo, D’Alessandro e Galli and Vivo Concerti. The German live entertainment giant also controls the market leading ticketing company TicketOne.

This is the second time in as many years that reports by Italian news outlets have resulted in an investigation into major live industry players. A 2017 television interview with Live Nation Italy president Roberto De Luca led to a two-year investigation into promoters conspiring with Viagogo. The executives were later acquitted of all charges.

 


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Ticketmaster signs Italy’s Zed Entertainment

Ticketmaster Italy has partnered with with Zed Entertainment, one of the largest venue operators and promoters in Italy, to provide ticketing services for its ten venues.

The first major venue deal for Ticketmaster Italy, which launched last November, the partnership will see the company ticket the Gran Teatro Geox (2,500-seat) in Padua, Gran Teatro Morato (1,800-cap.) in Brescia, Kioene Arena (3,916-seat) in Padua, Zoppas Arena (4,000-cap.) in Conegliano, PalaGeorge (5,500-cap.) in Montichiari, Stadio Euganeo (32,420-cap.) in Padua, Arena Spettacoli Padova Fiere (4,000-cap.) in Padua, Arena di Mantova and Teatro Mantova (6,000-cap., ex Palabam) in Mantua and Festival Estivo Padova in Padua.

Daniel Bei, since June managing director of Ticketmaster Italy, says: “Having opened our doors just last year, this is a significant win for Ticketmaster Italy as our first major venue deal. Our mission is to support the local live music industry with our world-class service, to help venues connect with fans wherever they may be.

“This is a significant win for Ticketmaster Italy as our first major venue deal”

“We share Zed’s passion for live entertainment, and look forward to collaborating closely to grow our business together.”

Valeria Arzenton, Zed’s co-founder, adds: “We are constantly investing in ideas, innovation and quality in our venues to ensure every single attendee has a unique and enjoyable experience.

“Through this partnership with Ticketmaster we will be able to upgrade our ticketing service, and make the live experience much more fulfilling for fans.”

 


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