As a result of the deal, the price of which has not been disclosed, it will become the sole owner of De Vijver Media. This includes ownership of all Belgian SBS channels, Vier (4), Vijf (5) and Zes (6). SBS is the second largest privatre broadcaster in Flanders, after Medialaan (VTM, Q2, and Vitaya).
Alongside the transaction, through a 50/50 joint venture, SBS Belgium and Mediahuis are setting up a sales office that will provide commercial partners with online video solutions and cross-media options.
The transactions are now being notified to the competent competition authorities for approval.
Commenting on these developments, John Porter, CEO Telenet, said: “We are pleased to be able to take this next step in our ‘connected entertainment’ strategy. As the owner of a production house with strong local roots and a number of thriving commercial channels, Telenet can speed up the realization of new viewing experiences, and respond to the new ways in which media are consumed. At the same time, this will permit us to focus even more and even faster on innovation. It is thereby still our ambition to work together with all the players in the Belgian television and entertainment sector, and to ensure that the viewer can continue to enjoy top local content. In addition, I am also pleased that Wouter Vandenhaute will continue in his role as chairman of thebBoard of directors of De Vijver Media, and use his extensive experience to help guarantee continuity.”
Gert Ysebaert, CEO Mediahuis, added: “Mediahuis has experienced rapid growth in recent years, and has developed into a multimedia group. As the largest publisher in Belgium and the second largest publisher in the Netherlands, we have strong ambitions for the further digital expansion of our activities. The sale of the 30% stake in De Vijver Media should therefore also be seen as a clear decision to focus on the further strengthening of our Belgian-Dutch organization in the coming years, combined with the digital development of our media and services. In line with this digital strategy, the enhanced partnership with SBS will enable us to further strengthen our position within the rapidly evolving online video market, and to offer advertisers high-impact cross-media options. At the same time, we are convinced that Telenet is the most appropriate party to give SBS additional impact within the challenging and quickly evolving television landscape.”
Wouter Vandenhaute continued: “Telenet is becoming the full owner of De Vijver Media at exactly the moment at which both the company and the Flemish media landscape find themselves at a crossroads. Five years after the launch of Vier, SBS has consolidated its place as the third local player, along with VRT and Medialaan. Woestijnvis has been extensively rejuvenated, but, after 20 years, still remains the reference among the Flemish production houses. The dynamics between Public Broadcasting and two local commercial players over the past years ensure top television content for the Flemish viewer on a daily basis, and provide great opportunities for creative minds. At the same time, the audiovisual sector is facing challenges, partly because of the rapidly changing viewing behavior. The full acquisition of De Vijver Media by Telenet is the best guarantee for a successful future. Telenet has the resources and the knowhow to guide SBS and Woestijnvis through this changing landscape. Local content is the motive and the essential purpose of De Vijver Media, which also happens to be the reason Telenet entered this scene three years ago. The fact that Telenet is now increasing its stake to 100 percent is an indication of its appreciation, and a recognition of the performance of the past years. For me personally, as a shareholder, I have mixed feelings about having to let go of the dream we started with in early ’97. It is goodbye, but not a farewell, because I want to continue to play a part in this new story.”
Telenet has emphasised that the acquisition of De Vijver Media will not lead to a change in the agreements that were entered into with other TV providers today.