RTL sees Q1 operating profits up 8.7%

Top European network boosts revenue 2%

BERLIN -- Leading European TV network RTL Group left its main competitor, ProSiebenSat.1, in the dust in the first quarter, boosting revenue by 2% to 1.34 billion euros ($2.08 billion) and upping operating profits (EBITDA) to 188 million euros ($291 million), a 8.7% hike.

The growth came mainly from RTL's core German channels and offset drops in it channels in France (M6) and in the U.K. (Five). RTL boss Gerhard Zeiler has recently reshuffled management at Five, bringing back former CEO Dawn Airey, who was at competitor ITV, as the channel's new chairman and CEO (HR 4/29).

RTL's numbers match up favorably with ProSiebenSat.1, which saw operating profits drop off a cliff in the first quarter, falling 25% to 88.5 million euros ($137 million).

While RTL stock dipped sharply in the second half of 2007, it has since recovered and remains stable near 80 euros ($123). ProSieben shares have nose-dived, losing 60% of their value against last year and currently hovering around 10 euros ($15).

With a touch of understatement, and maybe a bit of schadenfreude toward its competitor in the German market, RTL said it had "no reason to be pessimistic" about future performance this year.
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