DPG may not simply take over RTL from the Dutch regulator

The two intended merger partners still want to go through with their deal.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) needs more research into the consequences of the proposed takeover of RTL Nederland by DPG Media. The takeover would create a powerful media company with a wide range of services, including television, radio and newspapers.

According to the ACM, DPG may reduce the quality and accessibility of the news as a result of the acquisition. “If that is the case, it could lead to a reduction in the size, quality and diversity of the general news offering to consumers”, the competition authority said.

More than a year ago, Talpa’s takeover of RTL failed. Even then, the competition authority threw a spanner in the works. As early as 2021, there were already signals that DPG Media was trying to hijack the deal with Talpa.

The ACM further states that DPG can further strengthen its negotiating position vis-à-vis the Dutch news agency ANP through the acquisition of RTL. For example, DPG may be able to negotiate lower ANP rates. In addition, the ACM has not yet ruled out that DPG may influence the ANP’s choice of news. DPG may also decide to stop purchasing those services from ANP, the ACM says.

Adverse effects
This could have negative consequences for other media companies that purchase services from the ANP and ultimately also for the general news offering to consumers, the regulator warns.

The ACM further emphasizes that, thanks to its stronger position, DPG may be able to offer a broader advertising package favorably to advertisers, partly because DPG then has a lot of data about its users. As a result, other media companies may no longer be able to compete sufficiently for this advertising revenue, says the ACM.

DPG and RTL must now let us know whether they want to continue with the takeover. Then they must apply for a permit for this. The ACM will then conduct an in-depth investigation into the consequences of this takeover, the regulator said.

Acquisition continues
RTL Group and DPG Media want to continue the takeover. They will apply for the required permit. The companies announced this in a statement to the ANP. “RTL Group continues to fully cooperate with the Dutch regulator ACM. We remain confident that the proposed transaction will be approved by the competent authorities and will be completed during 2024”, RTL Group said.

Erik Roddenhof, CEO of DPG Media, has “heard that the ACM is taking extra time to further investigate the proposed takeover of RTL Nederland. DPG Media believes it is important that the ACM carefully completes this process and we await the results calmly and with confidence.”

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