The Dutch competition authority ACM has blocked the proposed merger of RTL Nederland and Talpa Network, the TV group controlled The Voice creator John de Mol.
RTL Nederland and Talpa Network had entered into an agreement to merge their channels in June 2021 in a bid to compete more effectively with local streamers.
However, the Dutch competition authority has informed both parties that it will not approve the proposed merger.
It’s the second time in less than a year that RTL consolidation plans have been blocked by European competition authorities. Last September, the merger of RTL’s French commercial network M6 with TF1 was opposed by French anti-trust authorities.
RTL Group and Talpa Network said they had fully cooperated with ACM during its review of the merger, and had recently made proposals to mitigate the concerns regarding the position of the combined group in the Dutch TV advertising market. Their proposed remedy was to outsource the advertising sales of Talpa Network’s TV channels to Mediahuis Nederland.
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However, ACM has now told RTL Group and Talpa Network that its market test did not sufficiently mitigate its concerns.
In a statement, RTL Group and Talpa Network said they regretted 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. They said they firmly believed 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.
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.”