There’s a calm on the Dutch TV front as indie producers and public broadcasters wait to see which way the wind will blow in current negotiations on the startup of a multichannel commercial network.
Endemol Entertainment, pan-European media groups CLT and VNU and Dutch broadcaster Veronica have been deep in negotiations since early December, with contract talks expected to wrap momentarily. Indie TV producers and pubcasters, however, are wary of how the deal – calling for a web of as many as four channels – will go down.
“No one is signing contracts now,” said Andries Overste, head of the Independent Television Producers Assn. (OTP). CLT/VNU-backed commercial market leader RTL 4, and Veronica “won’t sign until the negotiations are completed. “Everybody else,” he adds, “is just waiting to see what will happen.”
Top indie producer Endemol makes programs for both the public broadcasters and RTL 4. The big question – if and when the deal gets inked – is if Endemol will work exclusively for partners RTL 4 and Veronica or continue to play the field.
“One month ago, RTL 4 needed a lot of product. Now, the situation could be completely changed,” says Rene Stokvis of Rene Stokvis Prods., which makes gameshows and docudramas for RTL 4, its sister channel RTL 5 and the public broadcasters. Indie producers are not the only ones with frayed nerves. Tros, a major pubcaster whose ratings are largely propped up by Endemol’s gameshows and other fare, could suffer a severe setback if its program supply is cut off.
The Tros muddle is just one example of the mess the public broadcasting system has found itself in since Veronica, its biggest and wealthiest member, threw its lot in with Endemol and decided to leave the public system to go commercial in August.