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Dutch regulator strikes down proposed RTL-Talpa merger in the Netherlands

The proposed merger between RTL and Talpa Network in the Netherlands looks to be off after Dutch competition authority ACM signalled its intention to block the deal.

Thomas Rabe

RTL Group and Talpa Network agreed to merge their broadcasting and associated businesses in the Netherlands to create a major new Dutch media group in mid-2021.

According to RTL Group, ACM has informed the two groups that it will not approve the proposed merger following an in-depth review.

ACM has concerns regarding the position of the combined group in the Dutch TV advertising market, RTL Group said, adding that it and Talpa Network had made proposals to address and mitigate the concerns raised.

The proposed remedy was to outsource the advertising sales of Talpa Network’s TV channels to Mediahuis Nederland, RTL Group said.

However, ACM has now indicated to RTL Group and Talpa Network that the market test “did not sufficiently mitigate its concerns,” putting an end to the merger process, with a formal decision from AMC expected in the coming weeks.

The two said at the time the deal was announced that the merged entity would have “the size, resources and creativity” to compete with global tech platforms in the Netherlands in areas such as premium content investment and expanding RTL-owned local streamer Videoland.

RTL Group and Talpa Network said today they regret that ACM “did not take into account the speed and extent of the changes in the Dutch media landscape and the impact of these changes on local media companies.”

The two continue to firmly believe that a merger of RTL Nederland and Talpa Network would have been the right strategic response to the challenges “resulting from the increased competition with the international platforms.”

It marks the second merger involving RTL to hit the skids in Europe in recent months after French regulators blocked the deal for it to bring its M6 Group together with fellow French broadcaster TF1.

RTL has since decided to keep its controlling stake in M6 Group despite receiving several offers. It looks set to do the same with RTL Nederland.

Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group, said: “RTL Nederland is and will remain a key asset for RTL Group – it is highly profitable with a strong family of channels which scored excellent audience ratings and financial results in 2022.

“Under the leadership of CEO Sven Sauvé, RTL Nederland has built Videoland, one of the most successful European streaming services. Together with our excellent local management team, we will continue to grow RTL Nederland across TV, streaming and digital.

“I would like to thank all colleagues at RTL and Talpa Network who have worked on the proposed merger with great dedication. We remain convinced that market consolidation is necessary to compete with the global tech platforms – and that market consolidation will happen in the European TV markets sooner or later.”

Sauvé added: “Despite the decision of the authorities, we remain convinced that, together with Talpa Network, we could have created new opportunities in the Dutch media landscape. However, we are a company with a strong vision and investment power.

“We can assure our viewers, creators and business partners of our unwavering commitment to build on RTL’s strong position as a leading Dutch media company – a position that benefits all. RTL Nederland is in good shape, we have an excellent workforce and, with the full support of our shareholder, we will continue to expand our position in the TV, digital and streaming domain.”


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