De Persgroep takes over Humo, Story and Vitaya magazines


Sanoma magazines, publishers of Humo, Flair and a number of other magazines, have sold four of their titles to De Persgroep, publisher of De Morgen

Libelle TV to disappear

De Persgroep, owners of daily newspapers De Morgen and Het Laatste Nieuws and co-owners of TV station VTM, have taken over ownership of the magazines Humo, Story, TeVe Blad and Vitaya from the local branch of the Finnish Sanoma publishing group. Union representatives at Sanoma said the take-over “came out of the blue”.

De Persgroep had shown an interest in several Sanoma titles last year, but Sanoma at that time was busy integrating its Belgian and Dutch magazines into one company. The final decision to do business was only taken recently, both sides said. No price details have been released. The buy-out means the transfer of 65 employees from Sanoma to De Persgroep.

Unions expressed concern at the effect of the sell-off. “A number of initiatives had been launched, and synergies were being sought with the Netherlands,” said Geert Haverbeke of the socialist union BBTK. “Now that there are fewer magazines, it could be that there will also be less need for support services.”

The Flemish Association of Journalists (VVJ) also expressed concern, with the hope that De Persgroep would not merge the content of the newly arrived magazines. “That would do the press landscape no good,” said VVJ secretary Pol Deltour. De Persgroep already publishes Dag Allemaal, a celebrity gossip magazine in direct competition with Story.

Koen Verweek of De Persgroep’s magazines division said that Sanoma’s TeVe Blad, however, was not a direct competitor for the group’s TV Familie, as the former is strictly a guide, while the latter is more article-focused. TeVe Blad sells 163,000 copies a week, according to the latest circulation figures and is the best-selling of the four titles changing hands.

In other news, Sanoma announced it would stop its Libelle TV channel from 1 July to concentrate on online video. Radio station Story FM will be sold when a buyer can be found, Sanoma’s Belgian CEO said.