CTS Eventim’s TicketOne Fined €10M By Competition Watchdog In Italy, Appeals
CTS Eventim’s Italian ticketing operation.
CTS Eventim, which operates its ticketing business under the TicketOne brand in Italy, has been fined by the country’s anti-trust agency Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM).
The watchdog found that TicketOne had abused its market dominant position, excluding competitors from participating in the sale of tickets to popular events, thereby also depriving consumers of choice and potentially better deals.
It therefore set a fine of more than €10 million ($1.2 million), which CTS Eventim will appeal at the local appeals court Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale (TAR).
Instrumental in bringing the TicketOne’s market practices to the attention of the AGCM was Valeria Arzenton, founder of Italian promotion and artist management company, as well as venue operator Zed Entertainment.
According to her own story, which she shared today, Arzenton established her own ticket agency Fastickets in 2012, competing for a certain allocation of tickets with TicketOne.
In early 2018, TicketOne and affiliates brought a lawsuit against Arzenton’s company to inhibit the sale of tickets through Fastickets.
They lost in court and dropped the complaint, a summary of events provided by Zed Entertainment reads.
That same year, Zed forged a non-exclusive partnership with Ticketmaster in the region, also maintaining the relationship with TicketOne.
– Valeria Arzenton.
Co-founder of Zed Entertainment.
Arzenton told Pollstar, she signed with Ticketmaster, “because it was a new operator in the sector that did not impose any tax and exclusivity clause within the market.”
She claimed that she was immediately contacted by TicketOne management, trying to convince her “to renounce the agreement, going so far as to threaten a ‘war’.”
The pressure she experience from CTS Eventim/TicketOne since, boycotts against and the withholding of moneys from Zed Entertainment companies. Arzenton explained how, at one point, the ticketing agency signed an embargo removing all the concert dates scheduled at Zed facilities from its website.
After two years of investigation, the AGCM filed its final 200-page report, containing 1717 documents in May 2020.
A summary on the watchdogs website says that TicketOne has been implementing an anti-competitive strategy since at least 2013, which includes “the stipulation of exclusive contracts with producers and organizers of live pop music events,” and its various acquisitions of national promoters, including D’Alessandro E Galli, Friends & Partners, Vertigo and Vivo Concerti.
It also mentions “the imposition of exclusivity on local promoters” when signing commercial agreements and confirmed “retaliatory and boycott behaviors towards the Zed group.”
The implementation of TicketOne’s strategy also harmed consumers, the AGCM concludes, “because the dominant company was able to charge higher commissions for the sale of tickets for live music events than its competitors,” and because it limited “the choice and purchase possibilities of consumers between the different ticketing operators.”
Arzenton took note of the decision without great satisfaction, apart from having her claims over the past years confirmed as true. “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 and be ready to start again in the name of culture and entertainment,” she commented, hoping that the anti-trust authority’s decision would be implemented in the way business was done going forward.
While Arzenton believes, “this fine is a historic ruling for the entire sector,” CTS Eventim and TicketOne stated, they “firmly reject AGCM’s claims” as well as its decision to fine, which was made “on the basis of incorrect market definitions and in violation of essential procedural rules.”
CTS Eventim stated, the decision “should never have been made,” and will appeal 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,” the company’s statement concludes.
The statement is referring to a decision by the Lazio Regional Administrative Court in Rome, which canceled sanctions raised by the AGCM against TicketOne in 2018.