CCPC seeks High Court order on Ticketmaster agreement

November 29, 2020

Why did the CCPC investigate ticketing?

In January 2017, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) commenced an investigation into suspected anti-competitive practices in relation to the provision of tickets and the operation of ticketing services for live events. The CCPC opened this investigation because of concerns that activities by operators in the market for the supply of outsourced ticketing services to live events may be in breach of competition law and causing consumer harm. Ticketmaster Ireland holds a very significant share of this market in the island of Ireland. The CCPC had concerns that Ticketmaster Ireland may have abused a dominant position in the market by entering into long term exclusive contracts with contractual partners  and that these contracts may have restricted competition in the market. Abuse of a dominant position and entering into anti-competitive agreements are prohibited by competition law.

What is the status of the investigation?

The CCPC conducted an extensive investigation which involved engaging with industry parties. Ticketmaster Ireland denies breaching competition law but has nonetheless entered into an agreement with the CCPC in which Ticketmaster Ireland has given certain commitments.  The CCPC considers that these commitments address the CCPC’s concerns arising from its investigation.  The full text of the agreement between the CCPC and Ticketmaster is published here.  In summary, Ticketmaster’s agreement has committed Ticketmaster to remove exclusivity clauses with respect to venues in relation to the supply of outsourced primary ticketing services, and limit the time period of exclusivity clauses to 3 years in contracts with live event organisers.  Overall contract duration will be capped at 5 years, and there will be no automatic contract renewals.

The CCPC recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a very significant adverse impact on the live events industry. It considers that, when live events open again, the measures that would be put in place as a consequence of its agreement with Ticketmaster Ireland would allow for improved competition in the market, and provide more choice for Irish live event businesses.  Improved competition in this market can ultimately deliver consumers significant benefits in terms of price, service and innovation.

What happens next?

Section 14B of the Competition Act 2002, as amended, empowers the CCPC to apply to the High Court to have an agreement with a business which it has been investigating made an order of court.  The CCPC is seeking to have the agreement between the CCPC and Ticketmaster Ireland made an order of the High Court, and the matter will be heard on 15 December 2020.  Should the agreement be made an order of the High Court, the terms of the agreement will come into effect after a standstill period of 45 days.  No further information will be available until the conclusion of this process.

Full details of the CCPC agreement with Ticketmaster Ireland is available here

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