RTL profits fall on Five goodwill charge

13 March 2009

LUXEMBOURG: RTL, the European broadcast giant, saw its net profits fall to €194 million ($251m; £180m) in 2008 compared with €563m the previous year, largely as a result of a goodwill charge of €337m relating to its UK television unit Five.

The company's total revenues rose by 1.2% to €5.77bn, while underlying revenues rose by 2.6%, with its German production arm Freemantle Media performing particularly strongly.

MediengruppeRTL Deutschland also saw its earnings before interest and tax rise 25.6%, and "significantly strengthened" its "leading position" in the German TV ad market over the course of the year.

Groupe M6, in France, and RTL Nederland both saw revenues slow, the former because of "a major programme investment" and the latter due to a restructuring programme.

Gerhard Zeiler, RTL Group's ceo, said it was "impossible" to provide full-year forecasts because of the "increasingly difficult advertising markets in Europe", with the situation being particularly bad in the UK and Spain.

Lagardère, the French conglomerate, saw its net profits rise by 11% last year to €593m, with like-for-like sales at its media arm Lagardère Active rising 0.4% to €2.1bn, but falling 7.9% on a reported basis.

Magazine sales fell by 0.3% on a like-for-like basis to €1.6bn, with "a relatively good performance" in France offset by slowing markets elsewhere, particularly the US and Spain.

Its like-for-like radio and TV net sales increased by 2.4% to €518m, with French radio sales rising in the third and fourth quarters, and its TV arm posting "significant growth" thanks to rise in ad revenues for it digital terrestrial channels over the year.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff