Media giants lock horns over RTL takeover plans

Media giants lock horns over RTL takeover plans
Credit: Belga

The IPM group (La Libre La Dernière Heure, L’Avenir) and Ads&Data (Telent, SBS, Mediahuis, and Proximus) have lodged an appeal with the Market Court in a bid to overturn a decision made by the Belgian Competition Authority (ABC) which authorised the takeover of RTL Belgium by DPG media (VTM, Het Laatste Nieuws, De Morgen), and Rossel (Le Soir, Sudpresse).

François le Hodey, CEO of IPM confirmed that they were seeking legal recourse to prevent the takeover, in a comment Le Soir.

“All observers were surprised by the absence of even minimum supervision from the ABC over this takeover. Its analysis was flawed and they didn’t undertake their duties,” the CEO said.

The 29 March approval by ABC stated that the takeover would not have a significant impact on the competitiveness of the market.

However, the takeover would give DPG media access to large amounts of advertising space and airtime on national radio and massively strengthen the media group’s position within the country.

The media chief says that they do not want to attempt to ban the takeover, but rather ensure that proper framework is in place to ensure competition in the media market.

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Even RTBF, the French-language public broadcaster of Belgium, was not thrilled by the plans. RMB, responsible for media and marketing for RTBF, was outraged by the takeover plans, but has ultimately backed down from joining the legal battle.

“The ABC has greatly underestimated the impact that this operation will have on the ecosystem of content monetisation,” Massimo Papa, Deputy General Manager of RMB told Le Soir.

“We have carried out a benefit/risk analysis analysis and have estimated as a group that it is not desirable to launch an appeal at this time.”

French language news media in Belgium is dominated by RTBF, RTL Info, Le Soir, L’Avenir, L’Echo, and La Libre Belgique.

Most newspapers in the country are ultimately controlled by a small circle of media-owning families, a fact openly criticised by Reporters Without Borders. This year, Belgium plunged 12 places in press freedom rankings, now ranking 23rd.

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