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RTL profits up, FremantleMedia down

RTL Group’s profits increased for the first half of 2011 but earnings at global production arm FremantleMedia dipped by a fifth year-on-year, interim results show.

RTL’s 2011 group earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) for the six months to June 30, 2011, stood at €557m (US$804m), according to half-year results out today.

This marks a €20m (or 3.4%) increase on 2010’s figure for the same period and was driven by contributions from its core German operation Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland (€268m), French division Groupe M6 (€149m) and Holland’s RTL Nederland (€59m).

Net profit was up 26.1% to €324m, compared with €257m in 2010, while revenues increased 3.4% to €2.75bn from €2.66bn. RTL CEO Gerhard Zeiler said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the rest of this year.

But American Idol and X Factor coproducer Fremantle’s EBITA was down 20% to €72m, compared with the €90m it made in the same period last year.

The drop was attributed to “general pressure on margins and volumes from broadcasters.” Distribution wing FremantleMedia Enterprises also recorded “lower” income, though breakout figures were not provided.

However, Fremantle’s revenues grew 4.2% to €621m from €596m in 2010, due to growth in the North American market and the acquisition of branded entertainment firm Radical Media and games developer Ludia.

RTL put overall group increases in revenue down to strong TV advertising markets in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

But the firm said fortunes in the European TV ad market were mixed, with its French, Dutch and Belgian channel groups growing, while Germany remained flat. Southern and Eastern Europe reported lower figures compared with last year.

The company didn’t release figures for its Greek business, Alpha TV, but noted Greece’s TV ad market had receded by 29.3% year-on-year and said its business there was “down dramatically.” The Greek economy has been shrinking in the face of heavy debts and high unemployment rates.

On the expansion front, RTL has this year consolidated in Croatia and Hungary, buying up 100% of its operations in the territories from local partner. It also took back the 26.3% of RTL Nederland that Talpa Media owned (to allow the latter to buy into SBS Netherlands) and launched a joint venture in India with Reliance Broadcast Networks.

“We’ve taken important steps in recent months to further strengthen our international portfolio,” said CEO Zeiler. “The new joint venture in India is RTL Group’s first broadcasting venture into Asia. We have acquired full control in both Hungary and Croatia, and will now proceed to build strong families of channels in these countries, too.”

“Maintaining the strong audience popularity of our channels and programmes” would be key to beating competition in all TV advertising markets in coming years, he added. “Despite the current insecurities of the global economy and the strong comparatives of the fourth quarter 2010, we remain cautiously optimistic for the full year.”


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