When media tycoon John de Mol launched plans for his own TV channel – first called Tien, then Talpa, then Tien again – he spoke of the need for a quality family broadcaster.

He bought up the cream of the Dutch presenters; offering them lavish sums of cash. He bought up football broadcasting rights; much to the fury of public channels.
Tien then Talpa then Tien had a target: 10% of the viewers within one year. That would really shake up the Dutch broadcasting sector. Two years on, Tien, as it is now, has attracted around 6% of the audience and its commitment to being a family entertainment group seems to have gone right out of the window.
It broadcasts some awfully tacky shows and others, even tackier, have been pulled before they went on air. A flick through the programme guide reveals the highlights of this week’s viewing: a reality soap about porn stars training to be classical actresses, a Dutch version of the BBC’s charming Footballers’ Wives, and a lot of American tat.
Tien has said it is now in talks with RTL Nederland about some possible alliance. In the meantime, John de Mol has learned that viewing figures cannot always be bought. He might have made his money through the reality soap format Big Brother, but who is actually watching him?

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