World Media 2007: The Netherlands

Confidence is up in the Netherlands as disposable income rises and unemployment falls, while John de Mol is on the brink of buying back Endemol, the company he helped to launch.

Famous as the home of Rembrandt, windmills and Big Brother, the Netherlands is also a major player in the global market. So, when the recession hit at the turn of the century, the Netherlands really felt it. But in 2007, it's back on track.

Growth has picked up sharply, to 2.8 per cent this year. Disposable incomes have risen, and unemployment has come down to 5.6 per cent. This can partly be put down to four years of reforms under the government of the Christian Democrats and the prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende.

November saw a general election, with a surprise win for Balkenende, a former professor, who has the nickname of Harry Potter. The latest coalition plan will probably see Balkenende, leader of the moderate party the Christian Democrats, remaining in place as prime minister, ruling with Labour and the Christian Union, a party of the religious right.

Immigration has become a major issue. The Netherlands, once known for its liberality and tolerance, has seen increasing tensions over its growing Muslim population. In the election in November, the Party for Freedom, a previously insignificant far-right party, won nine seats in parliament.

The media story of 2006 was the sale of the Dutch media conglomerate the VNU Group, which has renamed itself The Nielsen Company. The group, active in more than 100 countries and employing some 42,000 people worldwide, was sold in a private equity deal in May to Valcon Acquisitions.

The new chief executive, Dave Calhoun, was installed at The Nielsen Company in August, with a mission to grow its focus on media information services. The group, which owns AC Nielsen and AGB Nielsen Media research, sold its Business Publication Europe division to the private equity company 3i in December.

But no picture of the Netherlands would be complete without an update on the goings-on of the media mogul John de Mol. In January 2007, he took a 5.15 per cent stake in Endemol, the Big Brother producer that he co-founded and helped to run for a decade. He sold the company to its current owner, the telecoms giant Telefonica, in 2000 in a deal that made him a billionaire.

De Mol's latest venture is a new reality TV format which is broadcast on his Dutch TV channel, Tien, for the first time in September. The Golden Cage features ten contestants in a luxury villa waiting to see who can stay there for the longest. It comes at a time when Big Brother is on the wane in Holland.

USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1 =
EUR 0.80 *Estimated
Total News- Maga- TV Radio Cinema Out- Online
papers zines door
2000 4,887 2,214 1,170 974 293 16 173 47
2001 4,706 2,127 1,150 933 273 11 170 42
2002 4,580 1,991 1,101 985 285 9 170 40
2003 4,305 1,857 995 928 305 9 163 50
2004 4,385 1,793 953 1,057 320 7 173 82
2005 4,481 1,781 970 1,089 323 9 188 121
2006 4,664 1,817 995 1,155 333 9 198 157
2007* 4,818 1,844 1,012 1,213 340 9 204 196
2008* 4,951 1,872 1,027 1,249 347 9 213 235
2009* 5,076 1,899 1,043 1,280 353 9 221 271

Adspend notes 1) Excludes production costs. 2) Includes agency
commission. 3) After discounts. 4) Includes classified. 5) Magazines
include consumer and business titles. 6) Includes expenditure by
regional advertisers in regional media. 7) Outdoor includes transport
and ambient media. 8) Internet includes banners, buttons and content
deals from the top 20 internet media owners, excludes search engines. 9)
Television and radio; spot and non spot (NS 2006 estimate).

Newspaper: Telegraaf (daily, 727,000 copies)
Business magazine: Intermediair (weekly, 244,000 copies)
Consumer magazine: Kampioen (monthly, 3,601,000 copies)
Most-watched TV programme: Fifa World Cup qualifier - Netherlands versus
Best new TV format: Dancing on Ice
Circulation: HOI Instituut voor Media Auditing
Readership: National Onderzoek Multimedia
TV viewing: SKO
Newspapers: De Telegraaf, PCM Holding, Wegener
Magazines: Sanoma
TV: NOS (public), RTL, SBS


- Media topic du jour

A third free daily national newspaper launched in January 2007 called De Pers (The Press). But Dutch publisher PCM, which was behind the idea, decided against it and left private investor Marcel Boekhoorn on his own. He sued PCM for damages.

- Reigning media guru and why

John de Mol, who sold Endemol in 2000 for EUR5.5 billion, might be buying it back. He has also been hiring for his TV station, Tien.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

New entrant to the media scene Marcel Boekhoorn will need to learn quickly. Having made his money buying and selling companies, experts suggest that his media foray is a bit crazy.

- Car to drive: Volkswagen.

- Phone to carry: Nokia 93i.

- Whatever you do, don't say: I've got this great idea for a TV format - you get ten people in a building and ...


The Gold award-winning campaign, "the hunt", for the Volvo XC90, sprang from the sponsorship of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest. The work, by the Netherlands company Euro RSCG 4D, centred on the burial of a Volvo XC90 somewhere in the world. Website links and ads ended in a reality TV-style finale, when the finder of the car became its keeper.