CCPC publishes report on ticketing investigation
Outcome of investigation
Following an investigation by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) into suspected anti-competitive practices, Ticketmaster Ireland (Ticketmaster) agreed to a number of actions which sees Ticketmaster making specific changes to both current and future Ticketmaster contracts with live event organisers and venues operating in Ireland. These changes will result in more choice and flexibility for live event organisers and venues, and ultimately, for the consumer.
The CCPC was satisfied that the proposed actions would adequately address the issues the investigation had identified and asked the High Court to make their agreement with Ticketmaster an order of court under section 14B of the Competition Act 2002. The High Court agreed and on 29 January 2021 the agreement became an order of the High Court.
Outline of case
In January 2017, the CCPC opened an investigation into suspected anti-competitive practices in the ticketing industry in Ireland, examining activities which took place from 1 January 2012 to 13 March 2020. During the investigation, the CCPC gathered information and evidence from Ticketmaster and those who had entered into agreements with Ticketmaster including Ticketmaster’s competitors, live event organisers, venues on the island of Ireland, and primary ticketing companies operating in Great Britain. The CCPC also received a series of oral and documentary submissions from various parties, and reviewed complaints received from competitors, live event organisers and consumers. Ticketmaster and its contractual partners, including MCD and Aiken, cooperated fully with the CCPC during this period.
The CCPC’s investigation arrived at a preliminary view that Ticketmaster was in a dominant position in the market for outsourced Ticketing Services to live events across Ireland and that by using long-term contracts which didn’t allow companies to work with any other supplier, Ticketmaster were abusing their dominant position. This was potentially a breach of competition law under sections 4 and 5 of the 2002 Act and under Articles 101 and 102 of the TFEU.
The CCPC wrote to Ticketmaster to explain their preliminary findings and to offer an opportunity to reply and suggest solutions. Ticketmaster subsequently agreed to enter into an agreement with the CCPC in which Ticketmaster committed to a number of actions which involved specific changes to its current and future contracts with live event organisers and venues operating in Ireland. These changes include the removal of exclusivity clauses from agreements with venues and limiting all of Ticketmaster’s agreements with live event organisers and venues in Ireland to a maximum duration of five years.
The CCPC considers that these changes will result in more choice and flexibility for live event organisers and venues and allow for improved competition in the market which will, ultimately, benefit the consumer. As part of the agreement, Ticketmaster will be required, for a period of seven years, to report annually to the CCPC on its compliance with new and existing agreements with venues and live events organisers in Ireland.
With Ticketmaster’s consent, the CCPC applied to the High Court to have the agreement with Ticketmaster made an order of court under section 14B of the Competition Act 2002. The High Court granted the order on 15 December 2020 and the order came into effect on 29 January 2021.
The CCPC’s predecessor, the Competition Authority, previously carried out an investigation in 2005 into certain arrangements between Ticketmaster Ireland and its contractual partners, MCD and Aiken. The scope of this CCPC Investigation was significantly wider than the Competition Authority’s 2005 investigation, and took account of material developments and trends in the ticketing services sector on the island of Ireland. The outcome of this investigation supersedes the 2005 Enforcement Decision.