RTL and Talpa merger off the track

John de Mol stomps through the Gooi: the takeover of his Talpa by the larger RTL has been strongly rejected by the ACM. “He is very disappointed, but celebrities will not be dissatisfied.”

© William Rutten, Michel Schnater

It’s big news this morning: the acquisition of Talpa Network by the major competitor RTL Nederland is off the job. It was the last opportunity for John de Mol to dispose of his company properly: he would receive no less than 30 percent of the shares in RTL, which with Videoland is of course much more future-proof than Talpa.

Bales for Talpa

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) blows things up after a year and a half. The watchdog believes that a much too large power bloc would arise in the Dutch television market, because RTL would then gain control of almost all commercial TV channels. RTL thinks it’s a pity, but it is of course very disappointing for Talpa.

Talpa director Pim Schmitz: “In my opinion, the merger would have been the best answer to the challenges the market presents us. (…) We started the merger from strength and will now continue to shape the future with our creativity to meet the major challenges. We look forward to this with confidence.”

‘Happy TV stars’

Tina Nijkamp, ​​the former channel boss of Talpa station SBS 6, thinks that John is really disappointed. “Is this good or bad news? Well, that is different for all kinds of parties: RTL and Talpa will obviously be very disappointed. The TV producers will be relieved. There is now a greater chance that not everything will be made by John de Mol and Fremantle.”

And, she says on her analysis channel: “The presenters of RTL and Talpa, for example Ruben, Edson, Wendy, Gerard, Chantal and Art, as well as the NPO presenters who would like to make a switch in the future will not be dissatisfied. There is more to negotiate in terms of salary because RTL and Talpa now remain competitors.”

celebrity drama

When RTL and Talpa announced their plans two years ago, it was immediately clear that this would mean the end of mega salaries for TV stars. After all, if there is no negotiating with other parties, their market value will collapse completely. Example: Wilfred Genee managed to double his salary in 2018 by switching to Talpa.

TV connoisseur Rob Goossens also did not rule out a wave of dismissals among TV stars: “The star ensemble from ‘Hillywood’ had better wet its chest. RTL and Talpa expect to achieve at least 100 million euros in ‘synergy benefits’. Although that sounds nice, in practice it usually means that quite a few jobs are at risk.”

Black day

Media journalist Mark Koster speaks of a ‘black day’ for John de Mol. “The emergency measure with the sale of the sales house turned out not to be enough. DPG (Christian van Thillo) will now do everything possible to incorporate RTL. Advice: don’t be stingy with offers. Previous attempts (earlier with SBS as well) failed to do so.”

He continues: “RTL can also continue on its own. RTL Group is suddenly more positive about the Dutch subsidiary, which has cleverly renamed itself a multimedia player with Videoland. Unfortunately, that did not work out at De Mol. SBS will now be hit. Acquisition by RTL would have been an ideal exit.”

Off the job

That is now all gone: RTL and Talpa do not go together. NU.nl responder Sjaak thinks that is a good thing. “For example, if you get into a conflict as a program maker or are exploited by that power block, you are sidelined. Now you can still switch to the competitor,” he says.

And Chicoca: “Not for the viewer, but for the employees of RTL I say: fortunately. You will have to work together with Talpa! What rubbish programs they make there.”

It is the second time that RTL Group has seen an important merger fail. This already happened last year in France, where RTL channel M6 was not allowed to merge with TF1.