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Dutch watchdog blocks RTL bid for rival media company Talpa

Dutch watchdog blocks RTL bid for rival media company Talpa
By Reuters
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AMSTERDAM -Media company RTL Netherlands' planned acquisition of rival Talpa has been blocked by the Dutch competition watchdog, which said the combination would be too dominant in the Dutch market.

Luxembourg-based RTL Group SA had proposed the takeover in 2021 and aimed to merge its Dutch TV subsidiary with Talpa Network, a group of TV, radio, print and online businesses controlled by Dutch media tycoon John de Mol.

The merger would have brought together virtually all commercial Dutch-language TV channels, but the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on Monday said the merged entity would be too powerful in television advertising and distribution of television channels.

The ACM said its investigation had looked at what the lack of choice would have meant for advertisers.

The companies had argued that their real competition is with international streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney and HBO, which gained increased popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We remain convinced that market consolidation is necessary to compete with the global tech platforms and that market consolidation will happen in the European TV markets sooner or later," RTL said in a statement.

Talpa CEO Pim Schmitz said he believed that the merger was "the best answer to the challenges the market poses us", adding that the company would look for "alternative possibilities to keep fighting international competition".

Citi analysts said the decision was a "mild negative" for RTL but did not come as a surprise after French broadcasters TF1 and Bouygues abandoned a similar deal in September after regulatory opposition.

RTL shares were down 0.9% at 44.06 euros by 0842 GMT.

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