John de Mol sees his Talpa empire slowly crumbling. He is waiting for the green light to sell his company to RTL, but does the competitor still want it? “Talpa is no longer an attractive bride.”

    © William Rutten, Michel Schnater

    It must be the last major achievement in John de Mol’s career: the sale of his media company Talpa Network to RTL Nederland. Both parties announced more than a year ago, in June 2021, that they want to continue together. John wants to sell Talpa’s channels to RTL in exchange for a hefty 30 percent of the shares.

    jaded Talpa

    RTL is extremely generous, as Talpa is in decline: the linear channels perform worse month after month and in terms of on demand hardly any steps have been taken. Where RTL has managed to get a good foot in the door in the streaming world with Videoland, Talpa occasionally puts a podcast of the Meilandjes on Kijk.nl.

    Moreover, we are more than a year later and things are very different: the Talpa radio stations are in danger of losing their FM frequencies, the TV stations score crap without VI and the entire De Mol family is now discredited. RTL would not only have a huge image problem with Talpa, but also a stable full of jaded stars and formats.

    Why the merger is still not a fact? The Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets has yet to give permission and that seems anything but a done race. Their verdict may not follow until the fall. And that while Talpa is in a hurry.

    ‘missed bus’

    Format developer Kirsten Jan van Nieuwenhuijzen, who started his career as one of the first four creatives by John de Mol, thinks that Talpa is worth less by the day. “Talpa completely missed the bus. They haven’t done anything in the streaming area at all. RTL did that well,” he says in the podcast Content Wars.

    RTL overestimates the value of Talpa, he thinks. “I think RTL will also think: yes guys, hasn’t it gone down a bit? It is not the best deal for RTL. I would renegotiate if I were RTL. I would just look again: where are we now? The situation has really changed compared to last year.”

    “As RTL I would be concerned. I’d be like, yeah guys, aren’t we buying something a little out of date?”

    Attractive bride?

    Media expert Jan-Kees Emmer thinks it is a very bad deal for RTL, he says NPO Radio 1. “Talpa has been hit hard over the past few months and especially around that Voice scandal and what’s going on around those FM frequencies. That is no longer such an attractive bride for RTL.”

    John threatens to lose the FM frequencies of his four major radio stations, which are part of the deal with RTL, because of an upcoming frequency auction. “At the moment, taking over Talpa may no longer be so interesting for RTL,” says radio expert Elger van der Wel on the same channel.

    SBS 6 collapsed

    Talpa’s flagship SBS 6 has proven to be an empty shell this summer. “Now that the makers of the high-scoring Today Inside are on vacation, SBS 6 is completely collapsing. One after the other new program dies or suffers an ailing existence,” writes Fons van Westerloo, former broadcaster boss of SBS 6, in De Telegraaf .

    Private journalist Jan Uriot thinks that RTL would be better off buying Talpa’s crown jewels to grow independently. “I would actually say to RTL: the Meilandjes, VI and Massa is Kassa: just buy that. Then you are there and then you don’t have to do the entire merger.”

    Content Wars

    The podcast Content Wars has an entire episode devoted to the proposed merger between RTL and Talpa:

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