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The Netherlands: Disappointing Talpa readies for rebound

AMSTERDAM — Dutch media mogul John de Mol’s first TV venture Talpa may have kicked off with high expectations, but there’s no been no instant success. Talpa launched in mid-August and set off a major primetime access war.

“The idea was to catch the audiences at 6 p.m. and hold them into primetime,” says Jasper Van Doesselaar of Universal Media Netherlands TV.

Talpa promised advertisers 12% aud shares this year, but has been falling well short, at between 6% and 7% in the 20-49 age group. Talpa program topper Remko Van Westerloo admits the media landscape is “cutthroat” and Talpa is in a slump but says numbers will pick up in April when the latest all-star edition of “Expedition Robinson” rolls out.

Talpa suffers lack of the cross-promotional vehicles the other commercial nets — RTL Netherlands and SBS Broadcasting Holland — have. Outside soccer, to which Talpa owns rights, viewers are still not aware of the channel.

At Mip, Van Westerloo will be on an aggressive pickup spree for a 24-hour digital channel Talpa plans to launch next year.

Meanwhile, Holland’s oldest channel, RTL 4, remains the ratings leader, with “Idols” the top program, trailed by “Good Times Bad Times” and “CSI” in that order. “Idols” finished with top marks mid-March to be replaced by BBC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

SBS’ femme-skewed channel Net 5 weekday airs reruns of “McLeod’s Daughters,” “Charmed” and “Friends,” and on Tuesday broadcasts “Desperate Housewives,” local series “Evelien” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” “Medium” and “Lost” on Friday night Net 5 also attracts the femme aud.

Bart Soepnel, senior VP for parent SBS Broadcasting, considers it his job to close deals before landing on the Croisette, but he’s also keeping a sharp eye out for the odd slip under the radar that might tempt Dutch auds.

1. “Idols,” RTL 4

2. “Good Times, Bad Times,” RTL 4

3. “CSI,” RTL 4

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