Last year, RTL 's merger plans in France were halted by regulators and it has now suffered the same fate in the Netherlands.
Dutch competition authority ACM has informed RTL Group and John de Mol's Talpa Network that it won't approve their planned merger of their channels.
RTL Nederland and Talpa Network had entered into an agreement to merge their operations in June 2021 in a bid to better battle local streamers.
The official decision won't come for a few weeks but the deal is already off.
A statement from RTL noted both sides had "fully cooperated" to address the ACM's concerns of the merged business' likely domination of the TV ad market, with a proposal to "completely outsource" the advertising sales of Talpa Network's TV channels to Mediahuis Nederland.
However, this had not satisfied the concerns.
"RTL Group and Talpa Network regret that ACM did not take into account the speed and extent of the changes in the Dutch media landscape and the impact of these changes on local media companies," the statement added. "They continue to firmly believe that a merger of RTL Nederland and Talpa Network would have been the right strategic response to the challenges resulting from the increased competition with the international platforms."
"RTL Nederland is and will remain a key asset for RTL Group – it is highly profitable with a strong family of channels which scored excellent audience ratings and financial results in 2022," said RTL CEO Thomas Rabe. "Under the leadership of CEO Sven Sauvé, RTL Nederland has built Videoland, one of the most successful European streaming services. Together with our excellent local management team, we will continue to grow RTL Nederland across TV, streaming and digital."
"We can assure our viewers, creators and business partners of our unwavering commitment to build on RTL's strong position as a leading Dutch media company – a position that benefits all," Added Sauvé. "RTL Nederland is in good shape, we have an excellent workforce and, with the full support of our shareholder, we will continue to expand our position in the TV, digital and streaming domain."
For RTL, the blow comes after it failed to merge French network M6 with TF1. That deal was struck for similar reasons but was stopped by authorities on similar anti-competitive grounds.
Today's news comes after our story on RTL's production arm Fremantle. The Luxembourg-based broadcaster has bankrolled more than €250M ($270M) of acquisitions deals since 2021, sparking industry speculation it's fattening the American Idol maker up for a sale.
However, Rabe has unequivocally rejected that idea. "Fremantle is and will remain core to RTL Group's business and growth strategy," he said in a statement earlier this month. "Fremantle has firmly established itself as a home and attractive partner for the best creative minds, across entertainment, fiction, and documentaries."
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