Swiss Competition Law Report - Q1 2010

Author:Mr Pascal Favre and Silvio Venturi
Profession:Tavernier Tschanz

The FCC launches an investigation against Hallenstadion and TicketCorner

On February 2, 2010, the competition commission (FCC) opened an investigation against Aktiengesellschaft Hallenstadion Zürich (AGH) and TicketCorner SA (TicketCorner). AGH runs the Hallenstadion, a multifunctional sports arena, musical and music hall, auditorium and site of expositions in Zurich. TicketCorner is a leading Swiss company which, as a subsidiary of CTS Eventim AG, provides ticketing services for events of all types. The investigation's aim is to determine, on the one hand, whether the cooperation agreement between AGH and TicketCorner and, on the other hand, whether AGH's behaviour towards event organisers, constitute violations of the Swiss Cartel Act.

At the beginning of 2009, AGH and TicketCorner concluded a "cooperation agreement" for a duration of 5 years. According to this agreement, the companies wishing to organise an event in the Hallenstadion must distribute at least 50% of their tickets through TicketCorner.

The Secretariat of the FCC received two complaints from competitors of TicketCorner. The preliminary investigation opened thereafter has given indications that the cooperation agreement could breach competition law, in the sense that it excludes competitors from the market. Moreover, according to the FCC's press release, there are also indications that AGH could abuse its dominant position by compelling event organisers to distribute at least 50% of their tickets through TicketCorner.

This is not the first time that the FCC launches an investigation against TicketCorner. By decision of December 1, 2003, the FCC found that TicketCorner's practice of imposing exclusivity clauses in contracts with organisers of cultural and sporting events constituted an abuse of dominant position in the market for ticket distribution systems. TicketCorner challenged this decision before the Appeal Commission, which in 2005 sent the file to the FCC for a determination on whether, in view of market developments since the decision, there were grounds to revisit the finding against TicketCorner. The FCC renewed its enquiry, and concluded that, since the December 2003 decision, TicketCorner had altered its conduct by discontinuing its imposition of exclusivity clauses. Moreover, the FCC's analysis demonstrated that the market had evolved significantly (role of the Internet, development of new ticket sales systems, etc.). By a new decision of December 18, 2006...

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