StubHub parent Viagogo Hit With $24M Fine by Italian Regulator
ConcertsIndustryLegalMusicTop Story June 27, 2022 Dave Clark
Viagogo, the parent company of StubHub‘s North American businesses, was hit with a massive fine by authorities in Italy. Autorita per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM) levied a 23.5 million euros ($24.8 million) penalty against the company on June 23 for violations of strict ticket resale laws in the country, and ordered it to remove all “illegal content” listed on the platform within seven days.
Italy has strict laws against open ticket resale marketplaces, requiring ticket vendors to be “authorized” and consumers only allowed to sell tickets at prices equal to or lower than the initial prices paid. In its investigation that led to the fine, AGCOM found tickets for multiple artists listed on Viagogo.it for prices above the limits imposed by the law, including for performers like Sting, Green Day, Pearl Jam. and Dua Lipa.
In a statement to Billboard and translated to English by the publication, AGCOM says “secondary ticketing has the effect of inflating ticket prices” and exists to “the detriment of the community of artists, event organizers and of primary retailers.”
Viagogo had also seen a separate 3.7 million euro fine levied by Italian authorities in 2020, with its appeal rejected by an Italian court late in 2021, but now moved on to the EU Court of Justice, with the ticket marketplace arguing that it is a passive throughput for consumers to more tickets they cannot use, and therefore is not subject to the penalties authorities are looking to levy.
“Viagogo trusts that these pending proceedings will confirm it is not responsible for the allegations raised by AGCOM and all fines will be annulled,” a spokesperson for Viagogo told Billboard, citing the referral in April of the initial judgement to the EU court.
Industry insiders, who have long campaigned against independent ticket resale marketplaces in favor of industry-controlled ones with price floors, price limits, and fees going back to primary ticket marketplaces, promoters, and venues, lauded the fine from AGCOM and expressed hope that it would be copied by other European regulators.
“If other enforcement authorities follow Italy’s example,” says Sam Shemtob of the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), “the hope of a functional ticket resale market, with scalping largely relegated to the history books, could become a reality.”
The fine is far from the first to target the ticket resale giant, which is run by StubHub co-founder Eric Baker and purchased the North American resale marketplace just prior to the pandemic. Most recently, the company lost its appeal of a $7 million ($5 million U.S.) fine by Australian regulators.
Last Updated on June 27, 2022 by Dave Clark