Court rules for RTL in license flap

Dutch networks can skip application process

AMSTERDAM — A court in Amsterdam has ruled that RTL 4 and RTL 5, two of the three channels in the Dutch commercial network Holland Media Group (HMG), do not have to apply for Dutch broadcasting licenses this year.

HMG had been ordered by the Dutch government’s Media Commission, a watchdog group which has some legal powers, to take out Dutch licenses for its two channels RTL 4 and RTL 5. Veronica, the third HMG channel, already had a Dutch license.

RTL 4 and RTL 5’s licenses were issued out of Luxembourg prior to the merger with Veronica that created HMG several years ago.

The Media Commission has become increasingly strident with the two channels, charging they were breaking Dutch ad regs. RTL 4 and RTL 5 claimed since their licenses were issued out of Luxembourg, they were obligated to follow Luxembourg and EU rules, not Dutch ones.

The Media Commission countered that because most of the two channels’ employees lived and worked in Holland, they should be Dutch channels.

The Amsterdam court overturned the Media Commission’s ruling, subject to a judicial review, a slow process which could take up to several years and will probably end up in a European court.