Static over RTL control

Dutch gov't seeks regulatory oversight

AMSTERDAM — State secretary of culture and media Medy van der Laan is back in the headlines again, this time for her attempts to bring RTL Netherlands’ three Dutch channels under Dutch regulatory control.

The Dutch government has never been happy that Luxembourg-based RTL 4 and RTL 5 were not under Dutch control: the issue has been in courts over the years more than a few times and always lost. And now RTL Netherlands intends to drop the license of Yorin, the only RTL channel in Holland with a Dutch license, and launch another channel from Luxembourg called RTL 7.

Van der Laan has said she intends to ask the Grand Duchy to relinquish regulatory authority to Holland, and is prepared to take the matter to the European Court of Justice if needed.

“This is pretty straightforwardly a political issue,” said RTL Netherlands CEO Fons van Westerloo. “Under European law a broadcaster can fall under the jurisdiction of only one European territory, not two.”

Van Westerloo admitted the broadcasting laws of Luxembourg are “more liberal,” but, he added, “from the very beginning, RTL 4 and RTL 5 has voluntarily followed Dutch laws regarding advertising and children, as well as the stricter tobacco and alcohol regulations in Holland.”

In the past, Dutch media watchdogs have expressed concern about too liberal a use of product placement on RTL 4 and RTL 5.

In the meantime, RTL 7, set to launch Aug. 12, is clearly aimed at not losing too many viewers to Dutch media mogul John de Mol’s new broadcasting venture Talpa, which will also launch in Holland on Aug. 12.

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