Dutch net snares top exec

Holland Media Group grabs Van Westerloo from SBS

This article was updated at 2:00 p.m. PT on August 3, 2003.

AMSTERDAM — TV exec Fons Van Westerloo has resigned as general manager of SBS Broadcasting’s three-channel Dutch network to become CEO of the territory’s largest commercial net, Holland Media Group.

The 57-year-old Van Westerloo, who will take up his post at the end of September, moves into a position left vacant by Dick van der Graaf, who in July resigned abruptly from HMG, a subsid of the RTL Group.

In May 1995, Van Westerloo moved over from his position at HMG as program director of RTL5 to become G.M. of the then-newly launched SBS6. He brought with him Bart In’t Hout, with whom he had worked at RTL5, to be program director.

Filling in

In’t Hout has been appointed acting general manager of SBS Holland. He will keep his title as programming director of the three SBS nets. The net will be on the hunt for a new G.M.

Van Westerloo gained respect in the Dutch media community as a prize-winning foreign correspondent for public broadcaster Avro, where he later served as head of news and current affairs and then as veep, radio and TV. Prior to moving over to RTL5, he refashioned local Amsterdam station AT5 into a channel whose highly rated programming drew large aud shares.

Esteemed reputation

He has a rep as a savvy and trusted exec willing to take risks, and his leadership is widely considered to be one of the reasons the SBS channels have historically been the biggest revenue earners of the SBS Group.

Markus Tellenbach, prexy-CEO of SBS, called Van Westerloo a real pioneer with vision. Gerhard Zeiler, CEO of RTL Group, said he is convinced Van Westerloo is the right man to help take HMG forward.

Van Westerloo takes over a network that has been rocked by several key resignations over the last few years and a climate of uncertainty. It is regrouping its broadcast interests to fight competition from SBS and is attempting to expand its production interests to throw up a challenge to leading Dutch producer Endemol.