There is a fresh breeze blowing at the Basisweg in Amsterdam where the Telegraaf Media Group is located. After the takeover by the Flemish Mediahuis, the numbers are much better and the media group seems to be in calmer waters. Fresh is also the sound of the CEO, Marc Vangeel. In an interview with MediaMatters on New Business Radio he says that cooperation between media companies is crucial. He sees opportunities, particularly in the field of advertising. "That's heading in the right direction. The willingness to work together is there, but we have to give it the right structure.
TMG recently presented quite good annual figures. Profits have increased considerably and the decrease of the circulation of De Telegraaf has been halted. But whether that is the result of the 'Belgian' approach, Marc Vangeel doubts it. "Of course, you cannot ignore the fact that de Persgroep and the Mediahuis are doing well in the Netherlands. But that has nothing to do with being Belgian," says Vangeel. According to him, it's more in the structure of the two major Flemish publishers. "Both concerns have a family shareholder structure. By definition, they think more in the medium and long term. They are certainly interested in the profits of this year, but also in those of next year and the year after. They are more relaxed."
Vangeel is a relative unknown in the Dutch media world. He can identify with the description of Belgian CEOs who are know to be diplomatic, cost-conscious and decisive, but at the same time difficult to fathom. "That description is close. People who know me will certainly find me a diplomat. We are cost-conscious yes, and you just have to ask my colleagues whether I am decisive. Difficult to fathom? According to Vangeel, that's not true. "If I don't like something, you'll notice it immediately."
Consolidation is still a trend in the Dutch media. But Vangeel does not foresee any major rearrangements in the coming period. "There are still a few small publishers in the Netherlands. But the initiative for affiliation or collaboration will have to come from them. I do think there will be many new initiatives, especially in the digital field. Both from Sanoma, Persgroep and the Mediahuis."
Marc Vangeel considers collaboration between media companies to be crucial. "And it may have been crucial for much longer than people think. I look back with great pleasure on this collaboration between Belgian publishers on the advertising market. It must be absolutely clear that you are competitors on the consumer market, but that you make products together on the advertising market.
Vangeel thinks that there is also cooperation possible in the Netherlands on classifieds and data on advertisements. "We can create an environment there in which we can build up a position in relation to Google and Facebook."
Vangeel refers in particular to the NL Profiel initiative in which TMG, Sanoma and de Persgroep work together. "But we still want to organise it too much from our own companies. It is better to make it into separate entities that are focused and jointly sell or exploit products."
Listen below to the podcast of the interview (in Dutch, in 4 parts).