World Media 2006: The Netherlands

The famously liberal-minded Netherlands has become the home of trashy television, with reality shows dominating the schedules and even infecting the country's traditionally staid print sector.

The Netherlands is one of the most prosperous and civilised states in the history of the planet, a liberal-minded nation that prides itself on its tolerance of diversity and its celebration of plurality.

And how do its media industries respond? By aspiring to be the undisputed home of trashy television, that's how. One of its most notorious media entities, the Endemol television production company, was responsible for the phenomenon that is Big Brother. The Dutch version of the programme reached a new low (or hit an inspired high, depending on your point of view) last autumn when housemate Tanja, who had entered the house seven months pregnant, shared the birth of her baby girl with her fellow contestants and the viewing public.

The event was timed to coincide with the Mipcom TV market in Cannes and the event proved a big attraction at the Endemol stand, so the Tanja trend will doubtless become the country's biggest cultural export this year, destined to be repeated around the world.

Endemol is no longer Dutch-owned, after its co-founder John de Mol sold the company to Telefonica in 2000 for $1.4 billion. Now that his non-competition agreement with the Spanish company has expired, de Mol has become active in the Dutch market once again. His company, Talpa, owns three commercial radio stations and last August launched a television channel, Talpa TV.

Talpa TV made an instant impact, benefiting not only from the fact it had become Endemol's chosen partner for the notorious Tanja series of Big Brother, but it had also outbid its rivals for the rights to Dutch First Division football. Talpa TV raced to a 10 per cent audience share within its first four months of operation.

Talpa has had a succession of run-ins with the Dutch social affairs ministry, not least over I Want Your Child and Nothing Else. The series centred on a woman who was desperate to get pregnant and single-handedly whittled down a field of sperm donor contestants. The winner was then invited to inseminate her.

Reality TV has even infected other media in the Netherlands, including the print sector, which is normally rather sober. When Gruner & Jahr launched a version of Glamour under licence from Conde Nast, RTL ran a TV show to recruit a new journalist for the magazine.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1= EUR0.8. *Estimated Total TV Newspapers Magazines Radio 1994 2,916 574 1,462 660 118 1995 3,140 600 1,540 747 138 1996 3,472 664 1,689 823 167 1997 3,766 711 1,792 918 204 1998 4,191 778 2,014 1,026 220 1999 4,467 842 2,100 1,093 241 2000 4,882 973 2,212 1,169 292 2001 4,702 932 2,125 1,149 272 2002 4,576 984 1,989 1,100 285 2003 4,302 927 1,855 994 304 2004 4,496 1,056 1,792 1,075 319 2005 4,573 1,072 1,800 1,082 329 2006* 4,713 1,105 1,855 1,091 339 2007* 4,829 1,132 1,892 1,105 345 2008* 4,934 1,161 1,930 1,105 350 Total Outdoor Online Cinema 1994 2,916 89 0 12 1995 3,140 102 0 14 1996 3,472 118 0 12 1997 3,766 129 0 12 1998 4,191 139 0 14 1999 4,467 150 25 15 2000 4,882 173 47 16 2001 4,702 170 42 11 2002 4,576 170 40 9 2003 4,302 163 50 9 2004 4,496 164 82 7 2005 4,573 167 114 7 2006* 4,713 171 144 7 2007* 4,829 174 173 7 2008* 4,934 178 204 7 Adspend notes 1) After discounts. 2) Excludes production costs. 3) Includes classified. 4) Excludes agency commission. 5) Magazines include consumer and business titles. 6) Includes expenditure by regional advertisers in regional media. 7) Outdoor includes transport and ambient media. FACTFILE Highest circulating titles - Newspaper: De Telegraaf (daily, 776,000 copies) - Business magazine: Elsevier (weekly, 137,000 copies) - Consumer magazine: Kampioen (monthly, 3,843,000 copies) Top TV shows - Most watched TV programme (2004): Netherlands v Portugal match, Euro 2004 - Best new TV format: Reality TV involving child-bearing Major measurement tools - Circulation: Het Oplage Instituut - Readership: National Onderzoek Multimedia - TV viewing: SFO, GfK Main media owners - Newspapers: De Telegraaf, PCM Holding - Magazines: Sanoma - Television: NOS (public), RTL, SBS

THE LOWDOWN

Media topic du jour: When will Big Brother finally run out of trashy stunts to pull?

Reigning media guru and why: Jerome Mol, the internet entrepreneur, owner of Tornado Insider (websites, web production, conventional magazines) and driving force behind Gorilla Park, a venture capital company for hi-tech start-ups.

Media mogul to be seen dining with: John de Mol (no relation to Jerome Mol), one of the world's most energetic programme producers. Guaranteed to boggle your mind.

Car to drive: Audi, BMW, Trabant. Anything as long as it's German.

Phone to carry: Nokia 6125.

Whatever you do, don't say: There's more to life than bikes and dykes.

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