RTL’s ratings up as revenues and profit fall

Pan-European free-to-air broadcast group RTL reported revenue and profit declines for 2009, blaming double-digit advertising revenue declines in most of the markets in which it operates. Several of RTL’s key broadcasters, Including RTL in Germany, M6 in France and Five in the UK, increased viewing share and cut costs through 2009. However, overall revenue of €5.4bn was down 6% year-on-year and EBITA profit slumped 17.6% to €755m.

Bertelsmann-backed RTL also recorded a one-off write-down of €22 million relating to programming costs at Five. RTL CEO Gerhard Zeiler re-emphasised the company’s desire that a merger of Five with its UK free-to-air counterpart Channel 4 be examined by both parties and the relevant authorities. Five recorded a 29.9% decrease in revenues of €303m.

RTL also recorded €46m of losses relating to start-up operations. The company said that the majority of these costs emanated from the consolidation of Alpha, the Greek broadcaster in which it acquired a majority stake in late 2008.

Revenues at programming and distribution arm FremantleMedia decreased 1.7% at €1.18bn. Profit was flat at €155m.