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Switzerland’s Supreme Court says Hallenstadion’s ticketing breached anti-trust laws

Switzerland’s Supreme Court has found Hallenstadion arena in Zurich in violation of anti-trust laws surrounding its exclusive ticketing deal with CTS Eventim-owned Ticketcorner.

The Supreme Court has ruled against the two operators after an almost decade-long case that alleged the venue breached competition law between 2009 and 2011 when Ticketcorner ran the venue’s box office and advertising channels, which were not made available to competitors.

In 2009, Eventim notified Weko, Switzerland’s competition commission, about Hallenstadion’s ticketing practice, with other ticketing operators including Starticket and Ticketportal jumping on board.

After Eventim bought a 50 per cent stake in Ticketcorner in 2010, it withdrew its complaint with Weko, but things had already been set in motion.

Weko dropped the case in 2011 claiming it was unable to identify any inadmissible competition agreements between the two entities. Starticket and Ticketportal appealed the decision to the Federal Administrative Court in 2016, which found the companies had in fact engaged in anti-competitive behaviour. The 2016 decision has now been upheld by the Bundesgericht, the federal supreme court.

It ruled that promoters were not offered adequate alternatives in the 7,300-capacity venue. The Hallenstadion held 75 per cent of all pop and rock concerts between 2009 and 2011, which gave it a dominant market position.

Hallenstadion reportedly abused this position by effectively obstructing promoters from freely choosing their ticketing partner.

Now, Hallenstadion could be fined as much as 10% of its revenues generated over the last three years, according to NZZ. The duration and severity of the breach is to be determined by Weko.

In a joint statement from the two companies, Ticketcorner and Hallenstadion, both bemoaned the decision.

Both companies also lament the length of the proceedings and will probe the verdict in the coming days to determine its impact on their current collaboration.

Image: Christophorus77