RTL Battles With John de Mol on Billion Dollar TV Sell Off

ProSieben is looking to auction off channels across Europe.

COLOGNE, Germany – Europe’s biggest media groups are battling it out for control of 18 channels in Scandinavia and the Benelux region being auctioned off by German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1

RTL Group, Europe’s largest broadcaster and ProSieben’s main rival, has put in a bid for two Belgium channels controlled by ProSieben: VT4 and VijfTV. The channels target Belgium’s Flemish-speaking population and would complement the French-language channels RTL already operates in the country.

But RTL isn’t alone. John de Mol, creator of the Big Brother reality franchise, is also bidding for ProSieben’s Belgium channels. Together with Finnish publishing house Sanoma, de Mol has submitted an offer for the Belgium networks and the three channels ProSieben controls in neighboring Holland.

De Mol is already a major player in the Dutch TV scene. His Talpa group holds a 26.3 percent stake in RTL’s Dutch broadcasting interests. In the fight over ProSieben’s channels, de Mol is bidding against one of his long-term partners.

The two Belgian channels have been valued at around $217 million (€150 million).

ProSieben’s owners, private equity groups Permira and KKR, are believed to be asking at least $1.4 billion (€1 billion) for the broadcaster’s Benelux assets. ProSieben is thought to be asking a further $1.7 billion (€1.2 billion) for its 12 Scandinavian-based channels. A leading contender for the Scandi assets is Swedish media giant Modern Times Group.

ProSieben is looking to dump its channels in Scandinavian and Benelux to focus more on the German market, where it controls commercial TV giants Pro7 and Sat.1.