RTL Group holds steady in first half
Despite weak TV advertising in several marketsCOLOGNE, Germany -- Strong growth in Germany and at production unit FremantleMedia, creator of "American Idol" and "The X Factor," helped European TV giant RTL Group paper over weak advertising figures in several of its key markets.
Revenue at RTL slipped 0.9% to 2.86 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in the first half, and operating profit dipped 2.5% to 502 million euros ($732 million). Profit attributable to RTL Group shareholders, however, was up 16.6% to 338 million euros ($493 million).
RTL's German channels have had a solid year so far (operating profits are up nearly 30%), helped by ongoing malaise at top competitor ProSiebenSat.1.
Reporting the figures Tuesday, RTL boss Gerhard Zeiler was his typically cautious self, saying that forecasting ad revenue "in September, much less the second half" was very difficult.
With the exception of the French market, where RTL assets include the M6 and W9 channels, Zeiler said the second half is "unlikely to be better than the first." But he insisted that the ad downturn is a cyclical one and that growth in new media has not been at the cost of traditional TV.
The stoic Austrian would not be drawn into commenting on whether RTL would bid for BSkyB's 17.9% stake in Brit channel ITV. British regulators want BSkyB to shed the bulk of its ITV shares.