The Competition Commission and ticketing services company Computicket have reached a settlement agreement in terms of which Computicket has agreed to pay a fine of R11.3-million to settle a second prosecution against it by the commission for alleged abuse of market dominance.
The settlement agreement is still subject to confirmation by the Competition Tribunal.
The settlement makes note of the fact that the exclusivity provisions in Computicket's agreements have since October 23, 2019, been removed and the settlement takes cognisance of the changes in the events sector and market generally.
This includes the successful entry of several outsourced ticket distribution firms since the commission’s previous successful prosecution of Computicket for similar conduct.
The alleged abuse of dominance entailed Computicket entering into exclusive agreements with inventory providers, such as theatres, promoters and other event organisers, between January 2013 and June 2018 in terms of which Computicket was appointed as the sole provider of outsourced ticketing services to inventory providers.
The commission found that the effect of the exclusive agreements concluded between Computicket and inventory providers was to exclude competitors of Computicket from entering into or expanding in the market for outsourced ticket services, and depriving end-consumers of choice.
The commission found that Computicket had entered into and enforced exclusive agreements with a significant majority of inventory providers, and accordingly decided to refer the matter to the tribunal for prosecution.
“The commission is pleased that its previous and present prosecutions against Computicket have yielded significant and lasting change to the outsourced ticket distribution landscape in South Africa, which was under the stranglehold of Computicket through its strategy of locking-in customers in exclusive agreements. These agreements have contributed to the opening up of the outsourced ticket distribution market to competition,” said Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele.
In the previous prosecution by the commission in 2019, the tribunal imposed a fine of R20-million against Computicket for the same contravention of alleged abuse of market dominance during the period between 2005 to 2010.
The tribunal’s finding against Computicket during the previous prosecution was endorsed on appeal by the Competition Appeal Court.