Takeover of RTL Belgium: a certain nervousness - Companies

Takeover of RTL Belgium: a certain nervousness – Companies

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The former Belgian subsidiary of RTL Group officially passes into the bosom of the Rossel and DPG Media groups. Not without some gnashing of teeth…

Nine months. It is the “human” time – that of a pregnancy – that it will have taken for the Belgian Competition Authority to give birth to a decision favorable to the takeover of RTL Belgium by the press groups Rossel and DPG Media, announced last June. By stipulating that this new concentration of media “would not lead to a significant obstacle to effective competition on the markets” (sic), this independent body thus gives birth to a future “national champion” on our territory. With the acquisition in equal parts of RTL Belgium, the Rossel group (Le Soir, Sudpresse, etc.) and DPG Media (VTM, Het Laatste Nieuws, De Morgen, QMusic,…

Nine months. It is the “human” time – that of a pregnancy – that it will have taken for the Belgian Competition Authority to give birth to a decision favorable to the takeover of RTL Belgium by the press groups Rossel and DPG Media, announced last June. By stipulating that this new concentration of media “would not lead to a significant obstacle to effective competition on the markets” (sic), this independent body thus gives birth to a future “national champion” on our territory. With the equal share acquisition of RTL Belgium, the Rossel group (Le Soir, Sudpresse, etc.) and DPG Media (VTM, Het Laatste Nieuws, De Morgen, QMusic, etc.) are indeed laying the foundations for a new entity that should better stand up to the Gafa on the advertising market. In their pocket, the owners now have three additional television channels (RTL-TVi, Club RTL and Plug RTL), three radio stations (Bel RTL, Radio Contact and the digital Mint), the streaming platform RTLplay and the IP advertising network. RTL Belgium’s tools connected to Rossel’s resources and DPG Media’s strike force via VTM will therefore give a serious boost to the Belgian audiovisual market. Because this “trans-community” union will not only promote unprecedented synergies in terms of logistics, targeting and content purchase, but above all provide the country with a key player who now represents more than 40% of the national advertising market for the television, press and radio combined. If this merger inevitably delights the actors of the advertising market, it raises some concerns among the media which revolve around this future “national champion”. Direct competitor of Rossel in French-speaking Belgium, the publisher IPM (La Libre, La DH, L’Avenir, Moustique, etc.) became, barely three months ago, the main shareholder (nearly 70%) of the continuous television channel LN24. However, it comes back to us that new instructions have been given to those responsible for the channel, a sign that the tension is indeed palpable between the two groups. Last Thursday, while the Ukrainian president was speaking to Belgian parliamentarians via a screen and a special program was being organized on LN24, the editor-in-chief of Sudpresse (Rossel), a regular on the news channel’s sets, was canceled at the last minute to be replaced by a colleague from La Libre (IPM). Coincidence or not: the Belgian Competition Authority had approved the day before the acquisition of RTL Belgium by DPG Media and Rossel… If we can easily understand that IPM now wants to favor the living forces of its newspapers on LN24 , this sudden exclusion of competitors could, on the other hand, strain the market. Because by following the same reasoning, RTL Belgium, co-directed by Rossel, could just as well remove from its guest lists the journalists of La DH, La Libre and L’Avenir to give all the place to those of Le Soir and Sudpresse in his talk shows. But it would above all be a “bad good idea”: the plurality of opinions would then be the first victim of this unprecedented and regrettable competition for visibility.

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