From Radio Luxembourg to RTL/Talpa: the media landscape is being overhauled again

The merger of RTL Nederland and Talpa announced today marks a new chapter in the already turbulent Dutch media history. RTL, originally from Luxembourg, has always taken the lead in this.

The creation of the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion in June 1931 marked the entry of a ‘new factor’ in the European broadcasting world: a station that was purely geared to earning money and advertising. Equally unique was that the station was initially allowed to use a wavelength allocated to Luxembourg for two years.

For a small country like Luxembourg it was only logical to look beyond the borders: There were broadcasts in French, German, English, Luxembourgish and Dutch. The first Dutch-language broadcast was already in March 1933.

The commercial station’s Dutch-language broadcasts in the 1950s and the first two years of the 1960s were extremely popular. Before Radio Veronica and later Hilversum 3 took on that role, it was the only station where American popular music could be heard.

The same strategy was followed with the arrival of television: the company started activities in French-speaking Belgium, France, Germany and even Spain.

From 1989 RTL operated as a commercial TV channel in the Netherlands. The then founded RTL Véronique managed to broadcast in the Netherlands via a clever detour. The station circumvented the rules by broadcasting through Luxembourg. For that reason, the station was forced to broadcast the current affairs program in the morning and in the middle of the night Hei elei kuck elei to broadcast. In the Luxembourgish language.

Serious competition came in 1995 with Scandinavian Broadcasting System 6, better known as the popular channel SBS6. From then on, the two companies competed with each other in the already crowded TV market. The number of channels nevertheless grew steadily, because neither of the two rivals allowed each other advertising revenue.

Talpa Media, owned by John de Mol, owned 26.3 percent of the shares of RTL from October 2007 to January 2012, after which RTL Group took over the entire share package.

In July 2017, SBS became wholly owned by Talpa Network, forcing De Mol to develop program formulas for its own channels. Even his sister Linda moved from RTL to Talpa.

If the corona crisis had not intervened, the duopoly would probably have existed for years to come. But both Talpa and RTL have had to take heavy blows. The turnover of the entire RTL Group fell from 6.6 billion euros to 6 billion euros last year and the operating result fell from 1.1 billion euros in 2019 to 853 million euros.

Talpa Network had to lay off about 6 percent of its permanent employees a year ago to compensate for the declining income.

For RTL Group, these setbacks were the reason for a consolidation: the French and Belgian activities were put up for sale. And until this morning it seemed that DPG Media would make an offer for RTL Nederland.

The merger with Talpa has another reason: they look less linearly and more on demand. The Videoland platform is growing rapidly, but has to compete with powerful parties such as Disney and Netflix, which are also producing more and more Dutch-language content.

Pressure from foreign parties forces the two biggest competitors to merge. Which is especially useful for the production company Talpa, which in turn can work for two large landlords.

If the merger is approved, it is unthinkable that all channels will continue to exist side by side. Overlapping formulas will be merged, or replaced by online variants.


Source: Nieuws – Emerce by www.emerce.nl.

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