UK’s Smallest Terrestrial Channel Set to Emerge From Red

04 September 2003

British terrestrial channel Five looks set to make the first full-year profit in its seven year history.

The tidings emerged Wednesday as Five’s owner RTL Group, Europe’s largest broadcaster, reported H1 EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) up 39.8% to €253 million ($; £) on turnover up 5.2% to €2.2 billion.

Of this sum, Five contributed a widow’s mite, €1 million, which compares with a year-on-year loss of €3m. RTL chief executive Gerhard Zeiler expects this momentum to be maintained during the second half.

Five, jointly owned by RTL (65%) and United Business Media (35%), is seen as a prime takeover target now restrictions on non-EU ownership have been swept away by the UK’s new all-comers Communications Bill. For reasons which apparently owe more to fantasy than fact, word around the media parish pump is that Rupert Murdoch is eager to ingest the UK minnow.

Zeiler, not for the first time, is dismissive of such rumours: “I think some people may be interested in buying the channel,” he said “but we have not received a formal approach, and we won't sell.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff