Sanoma looking to sell SBS Belgium

January 19, 2014 21.08 Europe/London By Robert Briel

SanomaHQ_FinlandPublishing group Sanoma is looking to sell its 33.3% interest in private broadcaster SBS Belgium. According to local reports, RTL is one of the interested parties, as is cable operator Telenet.

All parties involved declined to comment.

Reports that Liberty Global’s Telenet is also one of the interested parties prompted Flemish minister of media Ingrid Lieten to ask the Regulator voor de Media for an analysis of the situation that would be created should Telenet indeed acquire a stake in the private broadcaster.

Such a move would put a lot of power into the hands of the operator with regards to the distribution of pay TV services as well as the running of private broadcasters. This could potentially lead to a conflict of interest, especially concerning the distribution of other TV channels over the network.

SBS Belgium is currently owned by media group Corelio, production house Woestijnvis and Sanoma, each for one-third of the shares. The broadcaster currently has two channels, Vier (Four) and Vijf (Five).

In April 2011, the ProSiebenSat.1 group announced it had sold the Dutch and Belgian SBS channels to Sanoma Publishing and partners.

In The Netherlands, Sanoma joined forces with John de Mol’s Talpa, which resulted in an unhappy marriage. However, Sanoma, who hold twi-thirds of the Dutch channels, wants to hold on to its share in the broadcasters.

In Belgium, it is a different story and the publisher apparently wants to sell its one-third minority stake.