Monday, February 20, 2006

Dutch newspapers jockeying for positions

Radio is a hot item in the Netherlands. Recently the newspaper company De Telegraaf bought Sky Radio from News Corp. Also the regional newspaper NDC has announced to start regional radio. In October I wrote that PCM would need a hostile offer from the audio or video companies. And see: now the newspaper company PCM with the national newspapers NRC Handelsblad, De Volkskrant and Trouw has announced that it intends to buy Arrow Radio with the two stations Arrow Classic Rock and Arrow Jazz FM. The two radio stations have monthly about two million people.

The acquisitions of commercial radio stations by newspapers are heralding a more liberal media policy. So far newspapers have restricted themselves to a 33 percent market share. But the government is looking into less restrictive media concentration policy.

So far newspapers did not have many opportunities to grow. De Telegraaf went into magazines and internet besides national and regional newspapers. NDC bought the book conglomerate VBK and cautiously trips into the field of internet. The national and regional newspaper company PCM has a large book division. All newspapers are looking into the opportunities of television through internet video. De Volkskrant has a video co-operation with the entertainment company IDTV.

PCM see it as a fine mix of quality newspapers and quality music. The newspaper company intends to bring in the expertise of the newspaper company in the field of art, culture, sports and science. De Volkskrant will produce news bulletins for the radio stations. And the newspaper and the radio stations will look into common internet services.

It is interesting to observe that newspaper companies are still investing more money in analogue media companies than in digital media companies. Of course the business is close to the core of the newspaper business with news and advertisement. Digital media companies are too insecure for newspapers with new formats, interactive advertising and a diverse audience. So the newspaper companies rather buy an internet format with proven audiences: De Telegraaf has bought Habbo Hotel from a Finnish company and the Fit Club from a Swedish company (also NDC promotes the Fit Club).

Come to think of it: none of the newspaper companies have invested in e-books or digital paper. I should say yet, as the E-INK/Philips technology company iRex is heavily promoting its digital paper as carrier of electronic newspapers and books.

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