Media group DPG Media, publisher, among others the morning, wants to acquire the television company RTL Netherlands. This would fulfill the long-awaited television dream of CEO Christian Van Thilo. DPG Media is putting €1.1 billion on the table for the takeover, which still needs approval from the competition watchdog.
Twenty years ago, DPG Media, then called De Persgroep, looked warily across borders for the first time. The company failed during that period Hit Parole First Dutch title. In the years that followed, the Dutch arm was equipped with more newspaper and magazine titles, a radio station and a series of Internet services. There was only one box left empty: the television. But this is changing now.
DPG Media has been interested in the Dutch RTL channels for some time. In 2021, the egg almost reached an agreement, but John de Mol and his group in Talpa threw a spanner in the works. De Mol secured the deal from Van Thillo, but eventually faced a ban from competition authorities. The new TV group will give De Mol a lot of power in the TV advertising market. The ball ended up in the court of Van Tillo once again, who now scored after some delay.
In the Netherlands, this follows the model of the Flanders region, where DPG Media owns VTM channels. The company is also active in the TV market in Wallonia since its acquisition of Belgian RTL’s activities together with publishing group Rossel in 2021. By adding TV to its offering in the Netherlands, DPG Media increases its strength in the advertiser market. Advertisers can easily launch a campaign across all media. Combining all of these media also allows DPG Media to collect more data about its users to improve personalized advertising. This would prepare DPG Media in the battle against players like Google or Facebook.
The acquisition also provides advantages when producing television programmes. This does not mean that VTM and RTL will now swap screen faces en masse or will produce only Dutch-Flemish programmes. “Both VTM and RTL are very strong in creating local content,” says Dirk Lodewix, general manager of radio, TV and streaming at DPG Media. “And that’s exactly where we’re making a difference with international players like Netflix and Disney. It would be crazy to throw that overboard.” The joining forces will happen mainly behind the scenes. In the production of shows like Traitors For example, where crew and location costs have already been shared. People want to create these types of structures more often in the future.
But the big gains can be found in the digital realm. Developing new applications and digital platforms costs a lot of money. “When Netflix develops a new app, they roll it out worldwide at the touch of a button,” explains Lodewyckx. “Local players have to make the same investments – viewers expect the same viewing comfort – but for a much smaller audience. This is exactly why scale is important. The acquisition of RTL allows us to spread these development costs over more channels.
In Flanders, there is also a close collaboration between the news editors of VTM and Van, under the name News City latest news. In the Netherlands, such cooperation between the RTL news service and DPG newspapers is not planned at the moment. It is said that the best way to work together is to study market by market. Reference was made to the Wallonia region, where there was also speculation about cooperation between Roussel’s newspapers and the RTL news service. So far no initiative has been taken to do so.
Although the question is whether it will stay that way. “Of course they are now saying they don’t intend to do that,” says Jonathan Hendricks, a postdoctoral researcher in journalism studies. “But it seems logical to me that there would be such cooperation. It would also be ineffective to have two video platforms with Videoland and Streamz. I would not be surprised that DPG Media Telenet (Streamz co-owner, PD) You will buy to combine the two.”
The acquisition still needs approval from the Dutch competition authorities. They at DPG Media are looking forward to this decision with confidence. Contrary to John De Mol’s takeover plans, this time no power bloc will be created in the television market. After all, DPG Media still has a strong business competitor to Talpa Channels.
This does not mean that DPG Media’s expansion plans do not raise questions, especially since the other major Belgian publisher Mediahuis (Standard, The newspaper) l De Telegraaf, NRC Handelsblad Some regional magazines have a large share of the market. “In the long run, of course, there won’t be much margin left,” Hendricks says. “In the Netherlands – in addition to the Belgians – you also have the NPO, Talpa and some small newspapers. That’s it.”
We hear a similar voice from Mathilde Sanders, who conducts media research at Utrecht University. “This acquisition is of course good for DPG Media to further consolidate its forces and compete against the big technology players. But what does not bode well for diversification is for a large number of media outlets to end up in one house. In the past, these types of concentrations have been closely monitored.” “Tougher, but now no one is complaining about it anymore. Obviously we have to accept that to keep the legacy media companies afloat.”
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