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TicketOne fined €10m by Italian Antitrust Authority

Italian primary ticketing service TicketOne has been fined €10m (£8.9m/$12.1m) by the country’s Antitrust Authority for abusing its dominant position in the market.

The Autorita’ Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato’s (AGCM) said that the CTS Eventim-owned ticketing firm has implemented “a complex abusive strategy of an exclusionary nature that has precluded competing ticketing operators from selling, in any way and through any channel, a particularly high quota of tickets for live pop music events “.

The Antitrust notes that the strategy implemented by TicketOne is divided into several actions, which it said has been implemented since at least since 2013 and still ongoing. They consist of the stipulation of exclusive contracts with producers and organisers of live events, as well as in acquisitions of national promoters Di and Gi Srl, Friends & Partners SpA, Vertigo Srl and Vivo Concerti Srl, and in the imposition of the exclusivity on local promoters.

The AGCM also points to the stipulation of commercial agreements with smaller or local ticketing operators, as well as its supposed “retaliatory behaviours,” boycotts in relation to the Zed group, one of the largest venue operators and promoters in the country, and moves to exclude Ticketmaster, which partnered with Zed in 2018.

TicketOne has also inflicted damage on consumers who have not been able to benefit from better services and lower prices charged by other ticketing operators, AGCM states. The dominant company has been able to charge higher commissions for the sale of tickets for live music events than its competitors, according to the Antitrust Authority, and has limited the choice and purchase possibilities of consumers between the different ticketing operators.

In response to the announcement, the company led by chief executive Stefano Lionetti, said: “TicketOne firmly rejects the assertions contained in the AGCM provision according to which the company has implemented an abuse of dominant position.

“The Authority has taken a manifestly inappropriate decision, based on an incorrect definition of the relevant market and in violation of essential rules on the matter.”

TicketOne will appeal to the Regional Administrative Tribunal (T.A.R.) and said it is confident that the ruling will be revoked after previous AGCM decisions were overturned.

In April last year, TicketOne claimed a major legal victory after Italy’s Council of State agreed with a decision that overturned a €1m fine imposed by the competition regulator.

The Council of State – which rules on the legality of public administration in Italy – upheld a 2018 decision that found the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) had erred in fining TicketOne for failing to prevent its tickets from ending up on the secondary market in 2017. AGCM, which began its investigation into CTS Eventim-owned TicketOne in 2016, appealed that decision but was defeated in court again.