On 29 November 2020, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“CCPC”) announced that it had reached agreement with Ticketmaster Ireland (“Ticketmaster”) to close its ticketing investigation on the basis of Section 14B commitments. The CCPC began its investigation in January 2017 under the Competition Act 2002, as amended. According to the CCPC, Ticketmaster holds a very significant market share in the supply of ticketing services for live events. The CCPC was concerned that Ticketmaster may have abused a dominant position in this market by negotiating contracts to supply ticketing services to live event organisers and venues on an exclusive basis. Ticketmaster denies that its agreements breach competition law. Nonetheless, it has agreed with the CCPC that in relation to its supply of ticketing services:
- in its agreements with venues, it will remove exclusivity clauses;
- in its agreements with live event organisers, it will limit exclusivity to three years; and
- all of its agreements will be limited to five years duration and will not renew automatically.
The term of Ticketmaster’s agreement with the CCPC is seven years.
Under the Section 14B procedure, the CCPC may apply to the High Court to have its agreement with Ticketmaster made an order of court. Any breach of the agreement would accordingly constitute contempt of court. Court records indicate that the CCPC filed its application in late November, and it is understood that the matter was heard on 15 December 2020.
The Section 14B procedure does not constitute any finding of competition law breach by Ticketmaster. It is well known that under the Competition Act 2002, as amended, the CCPC has no power to make findings of competition law breach.