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Viagogo fined €23.5m by Italian communications regulatory authority 

Ticketing resale platform Viagogo has been fined €23.5m (£20m/$25m) by Italy’s communications regulatory authority AGCOM for breaking the country’s rules on secondary ticketing.

Viagogo was given seven days to remove the illegal listings from its site by AGCOM (Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni).

The decision was made by AGCOM at a council meeting on June 23 following an investigation from Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency, the Guardia di Finanza.

The investigation found that Viagogo had listed tickets for 131 events at inflated prices of almost six or seven times more than face-value. Events included performances from artists such as Maneskin, Vasco Rossi, Sting, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam, Placebo, Cesare Cremonini, Paolo Conte and Andrea Bocelli.

In 2017, an amendment to Italian legislation was introduced through Italy’s budget law to criminalise ticketing touting (art. 1, paragraph 545, of the law 11 December 2016, n. 232). The change was subsumed into Italy’s Secondary Ticketing Act in March 2018, and prevents tickets being sold for commercial purposes or for above face value. The law is enforced by AGCOM.

Sam Shemtob, director of non-profit organisation Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), said: “This is a substantial fine for Viagogo, and a clear requirement to remove illegal listings within seven days. What is especially encouraging is the extensive investigation carried out by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency working closely with the Italian regulator AGCOM.

“Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping. If other enforcement authorities follow Italy’s example, the hope of a functional ticket resale market, with scalping largely relegated to the history books, could become a reality.”

TheTicketingBusiness.com contacted Viagogo for comment, and a spokesperson said in a statement: “We respect the decision of the AGCOM, however we are surprised by this fine because the Council of State has already raised ‘serious doubts’ that the law in question on secondary ticketing – and the related fines of AGCOM, including to Viagogo – are compatible with fundamental principles of EU Law on competition, free circulation of services and limitation of liability of pure intermediary platforms for illegal activity of its users.

“Indeed, Viagogo has already been held [as] a ‘passive’ intermediary platform by the same Council of State in a previous final judgment, confirming that it does not sell the tickets and is not liable for the illegal sales of tickets carried out by the platform’s users. As a result, the Council of State has referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to decide whether the law at issue and the AGCOM fines are valid and enforceable according to such EU principles. Viagogo trusts that these pending proceedings will confirm it is not responsible for the allegations raised by the AGCOM and all fines will be annulled.”

Image: Sebastian Ervi on Unsplash