ACM: possible negative consequences of RTL and Talpa merger, in-depth investigation necessary



The merger of RTL and John de Mol’s Talpa could have negative consequences for the price, quality and innovation of their offer, according to the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) after an initial investigation. That is why ACM considers it necessary to conduct an in-depth investigation into the merger plans.

That follow-up study is about “the consequences for advertisers, for producers of television programmes, for distributors of television channels and ultimately for the consumer”.

RTL and Talpa now compete with each other in all sorts of areas, such as buying and producing television programs and selling advertisements. One of the questions is whether a merger between the two companies will make it possible to increase the price of TV ads. In addition, ACM wonders whether a merger would impair the supply and quality of television programmes.

Higher prices

Channels such as VodafoneZiggo and KPN would also have to deal with one instead of two major providers. “Research must show whether RTL/Talpa can enforce higher prices as a result. This could ultimately lead to consumers having to pay more for television.”

Last year it was announced that RTL Group wants to take over Talpa Network. RTL and Talpa are now going to apply for a permit, after which ACM will continue with its investigation.

It is not unusual for ACM to conduct an in-depth investigation, a spokesperson said. “Certainly in markets that are complex like this one.” The regulator receives hundreds of merger notifications every year. Some of these require further investigation because the authority sees risks to competition. Last year that happened six times. Two proposed mergers were banned and four were allowed. In 2020, ACM also conducted six follow-up investigations. Additional conditions were then imposed on two proposed mergers.

Trust

Both media companies are confident that their proposed merger can go through after the in-depth investigation, they say. “Talpa Network and RTL Nederland will of course continue to cooperate in the further investigation by the ACM and have full confidence in a positive outcome,” said Talpa.

RTL program director Peter van der Vorst said last week that the revealed abuses at The Voice of Holland have not led to the merger being in jeopardy, but “some talks need to be had”.