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RTL withdraws outlook for 2020 over coronavirus fears

Pan-European broadcaster RTL Group has withdrawn its outlook for 2020 and dividend proposal for 2019 as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The broadcaster said that its TV channels, radio stations, streaming services and websites are currently registering significantly higher reach and usage and pointed to its low levels of debt and access to credit facilities through majority shareholder Bertelsmann as factors that would help see it through the crisis.

However, RTL said that it had decided to withdraw its 2020 guidance – published only three weeks ago – because of the economic uncertainty it faces.

The group said that global economic development and prospects have significantly deteriorated since mid-March, when RTL Group gave its outlook statement, and that it was currently not in a position to provide a new outlook for the full year 2020.

While the first quarter will be broadly in line with expectations, cancellations of advertising and postponements of productions will negatively impact the Group’s results in the coming months, it said.

In order to prioritise preserving liquidity, RTL’s board has withdrawn its earlier proposal of a €4.00 per share dividend for 2019. No dividend will now be proposed to the Annual Meeting of Shareholders on 30 June 2020.

The group said it was maintaining its mid-term targets for the streaming services TV Now in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands, as communicated in March.

RTL aims to grow its total number of paying subscribers to between five and seven million, to grow streaming revenue to at least €500 million and to break even by 2025 – targets that could be made easier to reach by the boom in streaming consumption that has accompanied the crisis, with many Europeans confined to home for the foreseeable future.