John de Mol backs Albers

John de Mol is one of Holland's best known businessmen. He made a vast fortune as one of the partners of the Endemol company which brought reality TV to the world and eventually sold out to the Spanish telephone company Telefonica. De Mol left Endemol last year and since then has been spending his money, investing in a variety of different businesses through his investment company Talpa Holdings. He bought and sold a stake in the Manchester United soccer empire, he owns a big chunk of the Spyker car company and more recently has been focusing his attention on building up a digital TV empire which will be launched in the summer of 2005 and will aim at grabbing a slice of the highly-developed Dutch cable TV market. Holland is unusual in that around 98% of the population have cable TV and de Mol seems to have ambitions beyond Dutch borders with a telecommunications company called Versatel in which he recently raised his ownership to 42%. De Mol's TV channel is going to use sport and family programming at prime time to pull in its audience and yesterday announced that he has bought the TV rights to the Dutch first division soccer league for 2005 and 2006. He needs more programming, of course, and the word in Holland is that he will outbid SBS, the station which currently has the F1 TV rights, which has been losing ratings recently because of the lack of a Dutch driver in F1. Funding the F1 career of Christijan Albers would kill two birds with one stone as it would draw attention to de Mol's new channel and at the same time boost TV audiences for F1. We expect that some of this will be announced later today when Minardi confirms Albers as one of its drivers in 2005.

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