European TV Giant RTL Group Names Thomas Rabe CEO

Thomas Rabe - PR Head Shot - H - 2011

Rabe, who heads up RTL parent company Bertelsmann, replaces Bert Habets, who resigned Monday, citing personal considerations.

Thomas Rabe, CEO of German media giant Bertelsmann, has taken over the position of CEO at Bertelsmann's TV subsidiary, RTL Group. He replaces Bert Habets, who resigned Monday, citing personal considerations.

Rabe will remain chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann as he takes on the new duties as RTL Group CEO.

Habets has been running RTL Group — which owns production giant Fremantle (American Gods, American Idol) and holds interests in 56 television channels across Europe — for just over a year. He took over as sole CEO in December 2017 and was tasked with transforming the traditional television group for the digital era.

It is unclear what his exit will mean for RTL's digital plans. The company recently unveiled a major push into video on demand, saying it would invest close to $400 million over the next three years in building up its VOD services, with the bulk, some $340 million, budgeted for content production and acquisition. Speaking to journalists last week, Rabe said RTL was focused on building local streaming platforms that would compete with the global players. Sources close to RTL said Habets was leaving for family reasons and not due to disagreements with Rabe over strategy.

Rabe has been chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann since 2012. He's also held the posts of CFO at both Bertelsmann and RTL Group.