With the acquisition of RTL by DPG, a media giant unprecedented in the Netherlands is in the making

Media giant DPG was actually only lacking one thing in the Netherlands: television. With the takeover of RTL Nederland, which was announced on Friday, DPG will instantly become a dominant player in that area.

If the takeover is approved by the competition watchdog ACM, it will create a company that is not only the largest newspaper publisher in the Netherlands (including A.D, de Volkskrant, Fidelity and a large number of regional newspapers), but which also has the largest radio station (QMusic), the largest commercial news site (NU.nl), the largest commercial television channel (RTL) and the second largest streaming service (Videoland).

For the first time, the Netherlands can have a media company that has television, radio and newspapers. Talpa previously aimed for that with the attempt The Telegraph to take over, but was trumped by Mediahuis.


The acquisition marks a further step in the concentration of media companies that has been taking place for years in the Netherlands, as in other European countries. In the Media Monitor 2023 the Media Authority summarized this development in the following sentence: “More and more market share with fewer companies.” Media companies say that this consolidation is necessary to remain competitive in a rapidly changing television and streaming market with major international players such as Netflix and Meta.

Journalists’ union NVJ says it has been surprised “in a very unpleasant way” by the proposed takeover. “We have been expressing our concerns about the highly concentrated media landscape for years and this takeover would lead to even further media concentration.”

In 2021, RTL was already looking for reinforcement through a merger with the smaller Talpa, but this was blocked by the ACM. The dominance of that combination on the traditional TV market went too far for ACM.

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DPG had previously expressed interest in RTL to no avail and objected to the merger of RTL and Talpa. After the ricochet, DPG remained on the ropes. In Belgium, DPG “is actually more of a TV and radio company than a publisher. For us as a group, making TV is in our DNA, which is why we are very interested,” said DPG CEO Erik Roddenhof in NRC this spring.

In Belgium, DPG not only has the largest Flemish commercial TV channel, VTM. Since last year, it has also owned 50 percent of the shares of the French-speaking RTL Belgium (the other 50 percent belong to Groupe Rossel).

Roddenhof emphasized that DPG estimates the value of its own television and streaming on the Dutch market to be high, in the press release in which DPG announced the acquisition. “We strongly believe in the future of television & streaming, where the power of good local programs and series is crucial. RTL and Videoland are successful local brands with fantastic programming that is appreciated by a wide audience.”

The acquisition sum that DPG has agreed with RTL’s parent company RTL Group (which in turn is largely (76 percent) owned by the German Bertelsmann) is 1.1 billion euros. “The sale to DPG Media is the best strategic option for RTL Nederland and all its stakeholders,” says Thomas Rabethe CEO of RTL Group.

Part of the agreement is that DPG will continue to use the RTL brand name until December 2034. RTL Group and DPG are also entering into a “strategic partnership” in the field of (streaming) technology, advertising sales and program content. In any case, for the next three years, the subsidiaries of the RTL Group in Germany, France and Hungary will be the first to bid on programs that RTL Nederland develops.

As an advertising provider, DPG, reinforced with RTL, can offer an exceptionally broad and varied range of options. If the merger goes ahead, advertisers in the Netherlands can then contact DPG for advertising campaigns that potentially extend from traditional TV (RTL4, RTL5, RTL7, RTL8, RTLZ), digital pay television (RTL Lounge, RTL Crime, RTL Telekids), streaming (the 1.3 million paying subscribers of Videoland), to radio (in addition to QMusic, also Joe FM), the many newspapers, magazines (including Dragonfly and Margriet, Story, Car week and VT Living) and websites (in addition to Nu.nl, also Buienradar, Tweakers and Nationale Vacaturebank).

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Unlike RTL, Talpa was prepared to make sacrifices to please the ACM.


The ACM will have to decide whether it considers this too great a concentration of power. The watchdog can refuse a permit for the takeover or impose conditions, such as divesting certain business units to reduce market dominance.

The Association of Advertisers (BvA), which was very critical of the proposed merger between RTL and Talpa, is now “positively critical”. “For our supporters,” says chairman Henriette van Swinderen, “it is important that this combination allows you to reach consumers in many different ways, cross-media. And if you want to keep Dutch media afloat given the current growth of global platforms, strong parties must emerge.” However, the BvA “will also take a critical look at the effects of this takeover for consumers.”

Talpa, which previously tried in vain The Telegraph and later to merge with RTL, is surprised at the speed with which – “after the failure of our merger with RTL” – the current takeover deal was concluded. But: “We have always had a good working relationship with both parties and we expect to continue this in the future.”

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