RTL Group (Germany)

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RTL is Europe's biggest broadcaster, controlling more than 50 TV channels and almost 30 radio stations in 12 countries, mainly in Europe but with a growing footprint in Asia. No competitor has anything like the same international footprint, and the group has steadily added additional territories to its coverage through acquisition. RTL has a particularly strong presence in Germany, where it has overtaken ProSiebenSat1 to become the country's #1 commercial broadcaster. (Rivals ARD and ZDF are both state-controlled). Other key subsidiaries include M6 in France - the local #2 commercial broadcaster behind TF1 - and RTL channels in the Netherlands and Belgium as well as a minority stake in Spain's Atresmedia, parent to Antena 3. UK broadcast network Five was sold in 2010. FremantleMedia is the group's substantial TV production division which controls several of the world's biggest programme franchises, not least the Idols, Got Talent and X Factor talent show brands. The group is also an important player in online video ad-serving following the acquisition of US-based platform SpotX. RTL is the largest division of German media giant Bertelsmann, with record revenues of €6.5bn in 2018. Germany accounts for more than a third of the total and France for almost another quarter. The group was run for several years by three co-CEOs; in 2018, Bert Habets was named as sole CEO, but announced his resignation the following year. Bertelsmann group CEO Thomas Rabe stepped in as interim leader. RTL traces its roots back to the foundation of Radio Luxembourg in 1924. The current group was created in two mergers in 1997 and 2000 with the broadcast interests previously owned by Pearson of the UK and Bertelsmann. The latter is now majority shareholder with 75%; most of the remaining equity is publicly quoted.

Capsule checked 13th April 2018

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 1st Apr 2019: Bert Habets, appointed as sole CEO of RTL Group only a few months ago, has left the group suddenly and unexpectedly, apparently for family reasons. Bertelsmann group CEO Thomas Rabe was named as interim CEO of RTL, which is the media giant's biggest business by far. Habets was originally appointed as co-CEO of RTL in 2017, alongside Guillaume de Posch. However, he became sole leader in 2018 following the resignation of de Posch.

Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Mar 2016: Bertelsmann's European broadcast group RTL reported strong performance for 2015, including revenues which broke the €6bn barrier for the first time. Net profit jumped by 21% to €789m. Best performance came from Germany, where RTL is the leading commercial broadcaster. Almost 54% of group revenues came from broadcasting - RTL has a presence in multiple European markets including France, where it owns the M6 channel. Another 22% came from content and production division FremantleMedia.

Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Sep 2015: Big sighs of relief at French commercial broadcasters TF1 (controlled by Bouygues) and M6 (controlled by Bertelsmann). Following several months of consideration, the government abandoned plans to reintroduce advertising after 8pm on their state-owned rival France Televisions. Fears of the competitive impact on an already hard-pressed TV ad market had caused a steep fall shares in TF1's and M6's share price; the government U-turn prompted an equally sharp rebound. Instead, culture minister Fleur Pellerin announced a small hike in the public license fee and higher taxes on internet providers Orange, Numericable-SFR, Bouygues and Free to fund public television services. However, that won't be enough to prevent what is likely to be a €50m loss for France Televisions for 2016.

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