Estonian concert organizers: Buyback of tickets may lead to bankruptcies

  • 2020-06-02
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The obligation for organizers to buy back tickets to large concerts canceled due to the coronavirus crisis may bring with it a wave of bankruptcies and massive cancellation of events, the news portal of public broadcaster ERR reported. 

Minister of Culture Tonis Lukas meanwhile has said that the solution lies in flexible interpretation of the Law of Obligations Act. The 2+2 rule and the restriction according to which no more than 1,000 people can take part in any outdoor event also mean that the 62,000 or so Rammstein fans who would have turned up at Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds this summer will not be able to do it and can ask their money back.  

Mart Eensalu, board member of concert organizer Live Nation Estonia, said that having to buy back very many tickets may lead to insolvency.

"In other countries, such as Latvia and Lithuania, solutions have been found for regulation by the state, for how the repurchase of tickets should take place, longer periods have been granted. It hasn't been done here," Eensalu said.

The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority said in its written reply to ERR's "Aktuaalne kaamera" news program that the law does not say exactly within what period of time a concert organizer must repurchase tickets to a canceled event. In general, customers should get back their money within two weeks to one month, it said. 

Tanel Samm, manager of the company Monster Music that brought Andrea Bocelli to perform at the Song Festival Grounds in last August, said their company has had to put off three festivals due to the coronavirus, to which 8,000 tickets have been sold. Samm said that the concerns of organizers of large concerts have fallen on deaf ears in Estonia to date.

"The money entrusted to us by clients who have bought tickets does not belong to us as long as the event has not taken place. 1,000-plus events have been banned for an indefinite period of time. We are effectively jobless, but must keep our offices working to bring the promised events to the people next year," Samm said.

"Only if the government finally enters into a dialogue with us will we be able to understand that this is necessary not just for the organizers. Our activity is to do with thousands of people who are paid during an event," he added.

After talking to "Aktuaalne kaamera," concert organizers had a meeting with Minister of Culture Tonis Lukas. According to the minister, the consumer protection authority should interpret the Law of Obligations Act differently than in a usual situation. 

"My call for concertgoers and the consumer protection authority is for us to be prepared to give concert organizers a year and a bit more to return the money, because when a concert is adjourned by one year the organizers will be able to return to normal cash flows then and make payouts," Lukas said.