Europewide media conglomerate RTL, formed last year from the broadcasting interests of Bertelsmann, Audiofina and Pearson, has posted a 50% fall in pre-tax profits for 2000 and predicts a flat earnings performance for 2001.

The group unveiled profits of €293 million euros before tax, down from 581m euros in 1999, with revenues up 14% to 4.04 billion euros. Commenting on the results, RTL stated that earnings had been “impacted primarily by increased costs for the creation of new formats at Pearson TV and also by geographic expansion of production into Poland, India and Indonesia.”

The restructuring of Pearson Television North America and a declining audience for French station RTL Radio would, forecast the group, also limit its earnings performance this year.

However, chief executive Didier Bellens remained upbeat: “We have grown our operations, controlled our costs and increased our margins, and we believe we are better placed than most of our competitors to withstand the current uncertainties in advertising markets around Europe.”

News source: Financial Times