The Competition Commission has fined Computicket and Shoprite a hefty R11.3-million for preventing smaller firms from entering the ticketing services sector. This is the second time Computicket has been fined. According to the commission, Computicket entered into exclusive agreements with inventory providers like theatres, promoters and other event organisers, January 2013 to June 2018, which resulted in it being appointed as the sole provider of outsourced ticketing services.
The consequence of these exclusive agreements was that they excluded competitors from entering the market or expanding in the market. Computicket, which is wholly owned by Shoprite and distributes tickets for entertainment events, bus trips, flights, holiday accommodation and more, contravened the Competition Act. Section 8(d)(i) or 8(c) of the Act prohibits a dominant firm like Computicket from abusing its dominance by excluding its competitors from entry, participation and expansion in a market.
“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 Competition Tribunal for prosecution,” the commission said. “The settlement between the parties records that the exclusivity provisions in Computicket’s agreements have from 23 October 2019 been removed, and takes cognisance of the changes in the events sector and the 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.” Commissioner Thembinkosi Bonakele said that the agreements have contributed to the opening the outsourced ticket distribution market to competition.
“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,” he said. The first time Computicket was taken to the tribunal by the commission was in 2019. Computicket was fined R20-million for the same contravention between 2005 and 2010. The tribunal’s prosecution of both cases was endorsed on appeal by the Competition Appeal Court. The recent agreement is yet to be confirmed by the Competition Tribunal.