Call-in shows trigger Dutch raid


COLOGNE, Germany -- Dutch authorities on Thursday said that they raided the local offices of SBS Broadcasting, RTL Group and Endemol on suspicion that the companies' call-in shows may violate Dutch gambling laws.

The raids come after scandals in Britain, where media regulators fined all the major channels -- BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Five -- for deceiving viewers who participated in phone-in challenges.

A spokeswoman for Pro7Sat.1, the German group that controls SBS, said the company has "nothing to hide," while Bertelsmann subsidiary RTL said it is cooperating fully with the Dutch authorities. Endemol could not be reached for comment.

In Frankfurt, shares in Pro7Sat.1 were down 3% to €23.77 ($33) by late Thursday. In Brussels, Endemol stock fell 2.5% to €22.96 ($31.87) and RTL Group was off 0.5% at €75.6 ($104.94).

Commenting on the drop in Pro7Sat.1 stock, UBS in London called shareholders' reaction "overdone," noting that annual call-in revenue at SBS in the Netherlands is about €15 million ($20.8 million), less than 1% of the division's turnover.

The spokeswoman for RTL said authorities "are in our building at the moment," adding that the company is fully cooperating with authorities.