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Dutch savor new calm

The Netherlands

AMSTERDAM — Buyers from Holland on the Croisette this October will be breathing easy. The take-no-prisoners acquisition climate of the past two years ended when billionaire media mogul John de Mol offloaded ill-fated channel Tien (10) to RTL Netherlands in June, giving the Dutch edition of RTL four channels, some heavy-duty sports rights and a cherry-picked stash of topline, aud-winning programming.

“We’re back to a normal market, and everyone is paying reasonable prices,” says longtime SBS programming topper Eric Van Stade, the newly named head of Dutch TV operations for ProSieben Sat1 (itself the new owner of pan-Euro channel launcher SBS).

De Mol’s deep pockets allowed him to spend liberally on programming, especially soccer rights, and lure talent from every web in Holland. That ultimately allowed RTL Netherlands to acquire some pretty hot stuff in the Tien deal, including “Desperate Housewives” local look-alike “Gooische Vrouwen.”

CFO Bert Habets notes his buyers can be tempted but says that “basically, Tien has given us enough content for the next season.”

Pubcasters and SBS came out relatively unscathed in the end from the Tien siege. A year-old rejig of the pubcasters that put family programming on Netherlands 1 and youth and experimental fare on Netherlands 3 kicked new life into the system, although several of 3’s offerings, including “The Big Donor,” caused a major morality quiver in Holland. In fact, all nets will be on the hunt to some extent for family programming in Cannes.

Pubcaster channel manager Roek Lips has also put green TV on his wish list, partly out of curiosity. Says Lips, “I want to see where this genre is going and, frankly, if it will last.”

TOP 3

1. Farmer Seeks Wife (Netherlands 1)

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