30 June 2010 by

Computicket referred to Tribunal for alleged exclusionary conduct

Along with heart transplants, vuvuzelas and the Kreepy-Krauly, South Africa can apparently lay claim to the world's first ever-computerised ticketing system. Forty years on, first-mover Computicket now stands accused of having abused its dominance in the provision of outsourced ticket distribution services for entertainment events. 

The referral follows complaints filed in 2008 by competitors, in relation to Computicket's long-term exclusive agreements with theatre owners, theatre producers, promoters, and festival organisers in the entertainment industry. The Commission alleges that such agreements have the effect of excluding Computicket's competitors from the market, reducing consumer choice, and convenience and resulting in Computicket charging higher fees than would be the case in a competitive market.

The Commission has requested the Tribunal to impose a penalty of 10% of Computicket's annual turnover and to declare the exclusivity clauses in the affected contracts void. This matter looks set to be an interesting test case in South Africa and should bring into focus an economic analysis that has so far received little attention in South Africa, namely how to evaluate so-called double-sided or platform markets. In a double side market, Computicket provides a service not only to ticket buyers (whom the Commission alleges are deprived of a choice of ticketing providers), but also to those who provide the entertainment.

Chris Charter, Director, Competition
Scarlate Nkiwane, Associate, Competition

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