Gerhard Zeiler Quits Fremantle Parent Company RTL After 13 Years

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Gerhard Zeiler

The CEO of the pan-European free-TV group is leaving “by mutual consent” and has hinted at a "new international task."

LONDON – Gerhard Zeiler, the chief executive of the pan-European broadcast group RTL, parent company of X Factor producer Fremantle Media, is quitting the company April 18, it was announced Tuesday.

Zeiler will be replaced with a new management structure that sees RTL Deutschland CEO Anke Shaferkordt and RTL’s international TV boss Guillaume de Posch replacing him as joint CEOs. The move sees Shaferkordt become the first woman on the Bertelsmann board.

RTL has 45 TV stations in markets like Germany, France, Spain and Luxembourg also produces global format hits including the Idols franchise, The Price Is Right, The Bill and Family Feud.

The company is 92 percent owned by the German publishing family Bertelsmann.

The decision is understood to be “by mutual and amicable consent,” with Zeiler hinting at “a new international task” according to a statement from Bertelsmann.

But the decision has has surprised some who know Zeiler well.

Gunter Thielen, the board chairman, said Zeiler had rendered “outstanding services to Bertelsmann and RTL Group in recent years” and paid tribute to his time at the group.

Zeiler presided over the sale of Channel 5 to British media mogul Richard Desmondin July 2010 after the channel had been posting losses for years. Under the new management, however, Channel 5 returned to profit in under a year.

“The decision to leave was not an easy one, but on the other hand I look forward to a new international task,” Zeiler said in a statement.

“I wish RTL Group a successful next step in its unbelievable development.”