|Formerly||Société Luxembourgeoise d'Études Radiophoniques (May-July 1929)|
Compagnie Nationale de Radiodiffusion Luxembourgeoise (1929-1931)
Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion (1931-2000)
SDAX component (RRTL)
LuxX Index component (RTLL)
|Founded||27 May 1929|
|Products||Television, radio, streaming, content production and digital services|
|Revenue||EUR6.651 billion (2019)|
Number of employees
|Parent||Bertelsmann Capital Holding (76.28%)|
RTL Group (for Radio Television Luxembourg) is a Luxembourgish-based international media company, with another corporate centre in Cologne, Germany. The company operates 68 television channels and 31 radio stations in Germany, France and other European countries. It also offers national streaming platforms, content productions and a range of digital services. Important segments of RTL Group are Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, Groupe M6, Fremantle, RTL Nederland and RTL Belgium.
The company, in its present form, was established by Bertelsmann, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) and Pearson in the year 2000. Over the years, Bertelsmann, a conglomerate based in the German city of Gütersloh, continued to increase its stake in RTL Group and currently owns just over 75% of the shares in the company after holding a stake of more than 90% in the past. RTL Group is one of a total of eight divisions of Bertelsmann: It is responsible for more than a third of its revenue and a large share of its operating profit.
It is one of the founding members of the European Broadcasting Union.
The roots of RTL Group date back to the 1920s. The company itself was established in 1931 as the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion (known as CLR for short). It was one of the world's first private broadcasting companies. After the Second World War, the company ventured into the world of television broadcasting. It was renamed Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (CLT) to reflect this new service in 1954. Under the name RTL (for Radio Télévision Luxembourg), it went on to provide its private broadcasting services in several European countries. When the European media markets were liberalised in the 1980s, television became increasingly important and started to overtake radio.
In the 1980s, Belgian and French media companies made up the majority of the shareholders of CLR and CLT. The following decades witnessed repeated conflicts for domination within the company and among its subsidiaries. In the 1990s, Bertelsmann ultimately came out on top after having gradually increased its stake in the German television channel RTL. Following a legal dispute with RTL/CLT, Bertelsmann announced plans to merge the television businesses of UFA to form the joint venture CLT-UFA in 1996. As a result, German television channels such as RTL Television and VOX and international broadcasting services, including M6 in France, were all brought together under one roof.
CLT-UFA not only grew organically but also increased in size due to a number of acquisitions. In the year 2000, Bertelsmann and Pearson announced plans to merge their television, radio and production activities. The two companies joined forces to create RTL Group, Europe's leading network of television channels and radio stations with a global content business, which was rebranded FremantleMedia in 2001 (now called Fremantle). This merger was designed to provide a strong European response to the US-American media dominance.
RTL Group was first listed on the London Stock Exchange on 26 July 2000. The existing shell of Audiofina, which was already a listed company, was used to simplify the administrative effort involved in the stock market launch. The issue price of the RTL Group share was calculated based on the closing prices of Audiofina in Luxembourg and Brussels. The RTL Group share consequently replaced the Audiofina listing.
Although Bertelsmann initially only held a minority share in RTL Group, the German conglomerate managed by Thomas Middelhoff set its sights on playing a leading role within the group. After exchanging shares with the Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) in 2001, Bertelsmann achieved its goal of becoming the majority shareholder of RTL Group and thus secured a leading position in the European television market.
Over the years, Bertelsmann increased its stake in RTL Group to more than 90%. Bertelsmann's initial aim was to acquire full ownership of RTL Group to reduce administrative costs, but this plan failed in 2007 due to uncertainties in Luxembourg law. The conglomerate responded by altering its strategy and in 2013, it sold a minority interest in RTL Group on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange to finance the growth of Bertelsmann and especially its digital transformation. Media reports responded positively to the secondary listing of RTL Group and the resulting availability of shares open to external investors.
RTL Group was already responsible for a large part of the revenue and profit of Bertelsmann in 2001. In the new structure of Bertelsmann, which was introduced in 2016, the company maintained its position as an important division. Since April 2019, Thomas Rabe, chairman and chief executive officer of Bertelsmann, has also simultaneously been at the helm of RTL Group. Under his management, the company is pursuing the objective of strengthening its core businesses, establishing local streaming services and further developing advertising technologies. Fostering its alliances and partnerships with other companies in the European media industry also plays an important role in the current strategy of RTL Group.
RTL Group S.A. is the parent company of the entire corporate group. Its legal form is a société anonyme, a public limited company under Luxembourg law. It was entered into the Luxembourg Trade Register on 29 March 1973. The company's main corporate objective is to develop audio-visual media and to lead and manage other companies active in the same field.
RTL Group S.A. currently has a net worth of EUR191,845,074. It is divided into 154,742,806 shares without nominal value, which are traded on the Luxembourg and Frankfurt Stock Exchanges. RTL Group S.A. shares are included in the German SDAX, a stock index for medium-sized companies. They are also included in the SXMP, a sector index for the European media industry.
Bertelsmann holds more than 75% of the shares in RTL Group S.A. The second-largest shareholder is Silchester International Investors, a British investment company based in London, which has a stake of around 5%. This shareholding forms part of the group's free float, which has at a stable value of between 20 and 25%.
The highest authority of RTL Group S.A. is its board of directors, in which the power to manage and control the group's business is vested. The Board of Directors has 13 members; there are currently eleven men and two women serving on the Board. Martin Taylor is the Chairman of the Board of Directors; the other members are Thomas Götz, Elmar Heggen, Immanuel Hermreck, Bernd Hirsch, Bernd Kundrun, Guillaume de Posch, Thomas Rabe, Jean-Louis Schiltz, Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, James Singh, Bettina Wulf and Lauren Zalaznick.
The operational business of RTL Group is headed by Thomas Rabe (Chief Executive Officer, CEO), Elmar Heggen (Chief Operating Officer, COO and Deputy CEO) and Björn Bauer (Chief Financial Officer, CFO). Together they form the executive committee of RTL Group S.A., which is supported by the group management committee and operations management committee. The management boards of RTL Group are based in Luxembourg and Cologne, Germany.
The headquarters of RTL Group, according to trade law, is located in the so-called "RTL City", which is located at Boulevard Pierre Frieden in the Kirchberg quarter in the north-east of Luxembourg City. Bertelsmann initially planned to sell the complex and lease it back in 2017 but ultimately decided to delay the transaction for an indefinite period. Besides the Luxembourg headquarters, there is another corporate centre located in the Cologne borough of Deutz, North Rhine-Westphalia.
In the 2019 financial year, RTL Group generated revenue of around EUR6.7 billion with a profit of EUR1.1 billion. The revenue mainly came from advertising (44% television, 4% radio), content production (22%), digital activities (16%) and platform businesses (6%). RTL Group generated 32% of its revenue in Germany, 22% in France, 16% in the United States, 8% in the Netherlands, 4% in Great Britain and 3% in Belgium.
RTL Group operates television channels, radio stations, streaming platforms, content production, a range of digital services and advertising sales. All of its business activities are assigned to 14 areas. The main segments of RTL Group are Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, Groupe M6, Fremantle, RTL Nederland and RTL Belgium. Divimove, RTL Croatia, RTL Hungary, RTL Luxembourg, SpotX and other businesses all fall into the "others" segment, as does the Group's minority interest in Atresmedia, a leading Spanish media company.
Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland is based in Cologne and operates the free-to-air channels RTL Television, VOX (entertainment) and ntv (news). It also offers pay-TV channels such as RTL Crime, RTL Living, RTL Passion and GEO Television. The company additionally operates a leading streaming service under the name TV Now.
The offers of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland are sold by the advertising company Ad Alliance, which also works with other Bertelsmann companies and further partners. Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland is also part of Bertelsmann's Content Alliance.
The headquarters of the Groupe M6 media holding company are located in Neuilly-sur-Seine in Paris. The company operates the television channels 6ter, M6 and W9, the channels Paris Première and Téva, as well as children channel Gulli. These channels are joined by radio stations such as RTL Radio France and Fun Radio and the streaming service 6play. Salto, a joint streaming service by France Télévisions, Groupe M6 and TF1, is currently in its test phase. Groupe M6 subsidiaries M6 Film, M6 Studio, SND and Studio 89 Productions are among the best-known production and film rights companies in the French-speaking world. Although RTL Group only owns a minority interest in Groupe M6, it controls the listed company and consolidates it in its balance sheet. On 18 May 2021, Groupe M6 and TF1 Group announced that both companies have began negotiations for a proposed merger. Pending authorizations of the competent authorities and the general meetings of Groupe TF1 and Groupe M6.
The head office of Fremantle (formerly FremantleMedia) is located in London. The company, which operates in 31 countries, creates, produces and distributes content for broadcasters of RTL Group (including TV channels and streaming platforms) and other clients, for example Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. It not only produces films and series (for example Deutschland 86) but also shows. Fremantle has attracted global attention with its casting shows such as Got Talent and Idols, which have been adapted in a multitude of countries worldwide, and owns popular game shows like The Price Is Right and Family Feud.
RTL Nederland (formerly the Holland Media Group) is a Dutch company based in Hilversum. Its television channels RTL 4, RTL 5, RTL 7, RTL 8, RTL Z, RTL Crime, RTL Lounge and RTL Telekids all have licences issued by Luxembourg. RTL Nederland also operates the streaming service Videoland and the free streaming service RTL XL. In June 2021 it was announced that RTL Nederland and competitor Talpa Network would merge. RTL is to hold 70% and Talpa is to hold 30% in the new company, pending approval by the Dutch ACM and the European Commission.
The headquarters of RTL Belgium are located in Brussels in the so-called "RTL House". The television channel RTL-TVI and related channels such as Club RTL and Plug RTL form the core of the company's business activities. These channels also have licences issued by Luxembourg, causing numerous problems to them. Being Luxembourgish channels, they do not face the same requirements and laws as for the Belgian TV channels, creating potential problems for disloyal competition. RTL Belgium additionally operates radio stations such as Bel RTL. Almost all of its services are provided in French. In June 2021 it was announced that RTL Belgium would be sold for EUR250 million to DPG Media and Rossel, pending regulatory approval.
Observers have repeatedly criticised RTL Group for having "missed the boat in the streaming era". Thomas Rabe, chairman and chief executive officer of Bertelsmann, has responded to this criticism by campaigning for the deregulation of the highly competitive television market to enable the establishment of national alternatives to the "giants of silicon valley".