RTL Group

RTL Group (for "Radio Television Luxembourg") is a Luxembourg-based international media conglomerate, with another corporate centre in Cologne, Germany.[1][2] 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 RTL Deutschland, Groupe M6, Fremantle and RTL Nederland.[3]

RTL Group S.A.
FormerlySociété Luxembourgeoise d'Études Radiophoniques (May–July 1929)
Compagnie Nationale de Radiodiffusion Luxembourgeoise (1929–1931)
Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion (1931–1954)
Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (1954–1997)
CLT-UFA (1997–2000)
SDAX component (RRTL)
LuxX Index component (RTLL)
IndustryMass media
Founded27 May 1929 (1929-05-27)
Key people
Martin Taylor
Thomas Rabe
ProductsTelevision, radio, streaming, content production and digital services
Revenue 6.651 billion (2019)
OwnerBertelsmann Capital Holding (76.28%)
Number of employees
16,264 (2019)
Logo of RTL Group until 2021

The company, in its present form, was established by Bertelsmann, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) and Pearson in the year 2000.[4] 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.[5][6] 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.[7]

It is one of the founding members of the European Broadcasting Union.


Historical background

The roots of RTL Group date back to the 1920s.[8] 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.[9] When the European media markets were liberalised in the 1980s, television became increasingly important and started to overtake radio.[8]

In the 1980s, Belgian and French media companies made up the majority of the shareholders of CLR and CLT.[10] The following decades witnessed repeated conflicts for domination within the company and among its subsidiaries.[11][12] In the 1990s, Bertelsmann ultimately came out on top after having gradually increased its stake in the German television channel RTL.[13] Following a legal dispute with RTL/CLT,[14][11] Bertelsmann announced plans to merge the television businesses of UFA to form the joint venture CLT-UFA in April 1996.[15] A merger agreement was signed on 8 July 1996.[16] It was approved by the CLT board of directors on 5 December,[17] and the formation of CLT-UFA was completed on 14 January 1997.[18] 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.[19]

Growth and stock market launch

CLT-UFA not only grew organically but also increased in size due to a number of acquisitions.[20] In the year 2000, Bertelsmann and Pearson announced plans to merge their television, radio and production activities.[21] The two companies joined forces to create RTL Group, Europe's leading network of television channels and radio stations with a global content business,[22] which was rebranded FremantleMedia in 2001 (now called Fremantle).[23] This merger was designed to provide a strong European response to U.S. media dominance.[24]

RTL Group was first listed on the London Stock Exchange[25] on 26 July 2000.[26][27] The existing shell of Audiofina,[28] which was already a listed company, was used to simplify the administrative effort involved in the stock market launch.[29] The issue price of the RTL Group share was calculated based on the closing prices of Audiofina in Luxembourg and Brussels.[30] The RTL Group share consequently replaced the Audiofina listing.[26]

Acquisition by Bertelsmann

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.[31] 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.[32][33]

Over the years, Bertelsmann increased its stake in RTL Group to more than 90%.[6] 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.[34][35][36] The conglomerate responded by altering its strategy and in 2013, it sold a minority interest in RTL Group on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange[37][38] to finance the growth of Bertelsmann and especially its digital transformation.[39] Media reports responded positively to the secondary listing of RTL Group and the resulting availability of shares open to external investors.[40]

Recent developments

RTL Group was already responsible for a large part of the revenue and profit of Bertelsmann in 2001.[41] In the new structure of Bertelsmann, which was introduced in 2016, the company maintained its position as an important division.[42] Since April 2019, Thomas Rabe, chairman and chief executive officer of Bertelsmann, has also simultaneously been at the helm of RTL Group.[43] Under his management, the company is pursuing the objective of strengthening its core businesses, establishing local streaming services and further developing advertising technologies.[44] 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.[45][46]

Corporate affairs

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.[47]


RTL Group S.A. currently has a net worth of €191,845,074. It is divided into 154,742,806 shares without nominal value, which are traded on the Luxembourg[48] and Frankfurt[49] Stock Exchanges. RTL Group S.A. shares are included in the German SDAX,[50] a stock index for medium-sized companies.[51] They are also included in the SXMP, a sector index for the European media industry.[52]

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%.[53]


The highest authority of RTL Group S.A. is its board of directors,[54] 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).[55] Together they form the executive committee of RTL Group S.A.,[56] 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.[2]

Corporate centre

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.[57] Bertelsmann initially planned to sell the complex and lease it back in 2017[58] but ultimately decided to delay the transaction for an indefinite period.[59] Besides the Luxembourg headquarters, there is another corporate centre located in the Cologne borough of Deutz, North Rhine-Westphalia.[2]

Key figures

In the 2019 financial year, RTL Group generated revenue of around €6.7 billion with a profit of €1.1 billion.[60] The revenue mainly came from advertising (44% television, 4% radio), content production (22%), digital activities (16%) and platform businesses (6%).[3] 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.[3][7]


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 and RTL Nederland. We Are Era, 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.[61]

RTL Deutschland

RTL Deutschland is based in Cologne and operates the free-to-air channels RTL Television, VOX (entertainment), RTLup, RTL Nitro, VOXup, and ntv (news), along with holding a significant stake in RTLZWEI. Most of these channels have Austrian and Swiss versions for the insertion of nation-specific advertising. It also offers pay-TV channels such as RTL Crime, RTL Living, RTL Passion and GEO Television. The company additionally operates a streaming service under the name RTL+ (formerly TV Now).

Advertising space for RTL Deutschland is sold by the advertising company Ad Alliance, which also works with other Bertelsmann companies and further partners. RTL Deutschland is also part of Bertelsmann's Content Alliance.

Groupe M6

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's channel Gulli.[62] 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,[63] is currently in its test phase.[64] 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 Groupe TF1 announced that they had begun negotiations to merge.[65] On 16 September 2022, the merger was officially abandoned.[66] On September 22, 2022, Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group's parent company, Bertelsmann confirmed that Groupe M6 is up for sale, after the failed merger with TF1 Group.[67] On October 3, 2022, RTL Group confirmed that they wouldn't be selling their stake in Groupe M6.[68]


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

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 Talpa Network and RTL Nederland announced an intent to 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.[69] In January 2022 the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets stated that it could not approve the merger as of yet and that further investigation to the consequences of price, quality and innovation is necessary.[70] On the 30th of January 2023 the Authority announced that it would not approve the merger, citing that the merged company would become too powerful.[71]

Former divisions

RTL Group or its prececessors previously operated or owned stakes in other TV channels or channel families, including RTL Belgium, RTL9, Channel 5, REN TV, RTL Croatia, Alpha TV, RTL 7, and TVI.

RTL Belgium

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.[72] 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 €250 million to DPG Media and Rossel, pending regulatory approval.[73] The sale was effectuated on March 31, 2022.


Observers have repeatedly criticised RTL Group for having "missed the boat in the streaming era".[74] 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".[75]

See also

  • European News Exchange

Notes and references

  1. Christian Muller (20 April 2012). "RTL Group: Ein klares Bekenntnis zu Luxemburg". Luxemburger Tageblatt (in German).
  2. Thomas Lückerath (28 August 2019). "Viva Colonia: Konzernführung der RTL Group zieht nach Köln". DWDL (in German). Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  3. "Annual Report 2019" (PDF). RTL Group. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  4. James Harding, Lutz Meier (7 April 2000). "Heute entsteht Europas größter TV-Konzern". Financial Times Deutschland (in German). p. 1.
  5. "Bertelsmann stockt Anteil an RTL auf". Börsen-Zeitung (in German). 18 February 2000. p. 9.
  6. Petra Münster (20 March 2002). "RTL Group zu 90 Prozent bei Bertelsmann". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). p. 25.
  7. "Annual Report 2019" (PDF). Bertelsmann. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 April 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  8. "The History" (PDF). RTL Group. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  9. Frank Sambeth (2003). Das Corporate Center in der Medien- und Kommunikationsindustrie. Eine wertorientierte Analyse (in German). Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag. p. 337. ISBN 978-3-322-81532-3.
  10. Hans J. Kleinsteuber, Torsten Rossmann, ed. (1994). Europa als Kommunikationsraum. Akteure, Strukturen und Konfliktpotentiale (in German). Opladen: Verlag Leske + Budrich. p. 159. ISBN 978-3-322-92529-9.
  11. "Machtkampf um Privatsender. RTL/CLT klagt gegen Burda und Bertelsmann". Handelsblatt (in German). 9 August 1995. p. 12.
  12. "Sprung nach vorn". Der Spiegel (in German). 14 August 1995. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  13. Michael Rediske (4 April 1996). "Eurofernsehen aus Gütersloh". Die Tageszeitung (in German). p. 3.
  14. "Skurriler Streit". Der Spiegel (in German). 23 January 1995. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  15. "Teuflisch intelligent". Der Spiegel (in German). 8 April 1996. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  16. "CLT-UFA: contract completed". Bertelsmann. 8 July 1996. Archived from the original on 17 January 1997. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  17. "Final Approval of CLT-UFA Merger by CLT Board of Directors". Bertelsmann. 5 December 1996. Archived from the original on 17 January 1997. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  18. "CLT-UFA: Largest European Entertainment Enterprise Officially Introduced". Bertelsmann. 14 January 1997. Archived from the original on 17 January 1997. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  19. "Ein Wachstums-Schub für den Fernseh-Zwerg". Saarbrücker Zeitung (in German). 9 July 1996.
  20. "CLT-UFA im Kaufrausch". Der Spiegel (in German). 3 January 2000. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  21. "Bertelsmann und Pearson besiegeln Allianz". Die Welt (in German). 8 April 2000. p. 13.
  22. Andreas Uhlig (8 April 2000). "Gründung eines europäischen Fernsehgiganten Kooperation von Bertelsmann und Pearson". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). p. 25.
  23. Jason Deans (21 August 2001). "Pearson TV revives Thames TV brand". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  24. Gunhild Freese (13 April 2000). "Die europäische Antwort". Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  25. "RTL Group ab 26. Juli an der Börse Europäischer Medienkonzern um Bertelsmann und Pearson TV". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). 6 July 2000. p. 24.
  26. Doris Grass (27 July 2000). "Schwacher Börsenstart von RTL Group". Financial Times Deutschland (in German). p. 17.
  27. G. Friedrich, S. Spohr (13 July 2000). "Baywatch in London". Telebörse (in German). p. 49.
  28. Andreas Grafemeyer (18 January 2001). "Börsengänge werden nicht zur Regel". Börsen-Zeitung (in German). p. 10.
  29. Lutz Meier (5 July 2000). "RTL Group ist Londoner Börse". Financial Times Deutschland (in German). p. 5.
  30. Andreas Hoffbauer (6 July 2000). "RTL Group holt sich Kapital an der Börse". Handelsblatt (in German). p. 15.
  31. Lutz Meier (10 April 2000). "Bertelsmann pocht auf die Führung der neuen TV-Gruppe". Financial Times Deutschland (in German). p. 6.
  32. Roland Mayrl (6 February 2001). "RTL sendet mehrheitlich für Bertelsmann". Wirtschaftsblatt (in German). p. 1.
  33. "Bertelsmann sichert sich die Vorherrschaft im TV-Geschäft". Handelsblatt (in German). 6 February 2001. p. 25.
  34. Thomas Clark (20 March 2002). "RTL Group bleibt vorerst an der Börse". Financial Times Deutschland (in German). p. 5.
  35. "Übernahme: Bertelsmann will RTL endlich ganz". Der Spiegel (in German). 4 December 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  36. Tina Kaiser (21 December 2007). "Bertelsmann will RTL doch nicht komplett kaufen". Die Welt (in German). p. 11.
  37. "Börsenschwergewicht: RTL-Aktie kommt auch nach Frankfurt". Handelsblatt (in German). 4 April 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  38. "Börsengang: Verhaltener Start für RTL". Wirtschaftswoche (in German). 30 April 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  39. "Verkauf von RTL-Aktien: Bertelsmann nimmt 1,4 Milliarden Euro ein". Handelsblatt (in German). 29 April 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  40. Andreas Wolf (13 June 2013). "RTL hat auch für Anleger etwas zu bieten". Wirtschaftsblatt (in German). p. 15.
  41. "Geschäftsbericht 2000/01" (PDF) (in German). Bertelsmann. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 July 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  42. Henrik Mortsiefer (23 March 2016). "Bertelsmann stellt sich breiter auf". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). p. 16.
  43. "Bertelsmann-Chef Rabe führt künftig auch RTL". Der Spiegel (in German). 1 April 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  44. Annette Becker (2 April 2019). "Chef der RTL Group tritt ab – Bertelsmann-CEO übernimmt". Börsen-Zeitung (in German). p. 16.
  45. Steffen Klusmann, Thomas Schulz (16 March 2019). "Allein schaufeln wir nur unser eigenes Grab". Der Spiegel (in German). p. 78.
  46. Marc Bartl (17 February 2020). "Thomas Rabes Traum von der RTL-ProSiebenSat.1-Hochzeit". Kress News (in German). Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  47. "RTL Group S.A." Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés (in French, English, and German). Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  48. "RTL Group" (in French). Bourse de Luxembourg. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  49. "RTL Group" (in German). Börse Frankfurt. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  50. "RTL-Gruppe steigt aus dem MDAX ab – im DAX ändert sic nichts". T-Online (in German). 7 September 2020. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  51. "SDAX". DAX Indices. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  52. "SXMP". STOXX Indices. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  53. "Unternehmensprofil: RTL". Börse Online (in German). Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  54. "Board of Directors". RTL Group. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  55. "RTL Group: neuer Finanzvorstand, neue Führungsstruktur und gute Halbjahreszahlen". Meedia (in German). 28 August 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  56. "Executive Committee". RTL Group. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  57. "Luxemburg: Das Großherzogtum bietet eine Menge Vorzüge als Medienstandort. Kann das kleinste Land der EG ein Exporteur in Sachen "Broadcasting" sein?". Handelsblatt (in German). 29 August 1989. p. 14.
  58. Uwe Mantel (30 March 2017). "RTL Group verkauft ihre neue Firmenzentrale". DWDL (in German). Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  59. Michel Thiel (30 August 2017). "Verkauf von RTL City verzögert". Luxemburger Wort (in German). Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  60. "RTL steigert Gewinn dank Produktions- und Digitalgeschäft sowie Verkauf von Universum Film". Meedia (in German). 13 March 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  61. Volker Scharninghausen (9 March 2020). "RTL Group: Atresmedia in Spanien steigert Konzerngewinn". New-Business (in German). Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  62. Julian Clover (3 September 2019). "M6 completes acquisition of Lagardère TV Business". Broadband TV News. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  63. François Bougon (13 August 2019). "Salto, l'anti-Netflix de France TV, TF1 et M6, est annoncé pour 2020". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  64. Séverine Rouby (1 June 2020). "Salto, l'anti-Netflix tricolore (FranceTV, TF1, M6), recrute des centaines de testeurs pour être fin prêt à l'automne". La Tribune (in French). Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  65. Tartaglione, Nancy (18 May 2021). "France's TF1 & M6 Enter Exclusive Merger Negotiations To Create $4B Media Giant". Deadline. Retrieved 22 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  66. "Proposed merger between TF1 and M6 group abandoned, companies say". Reuters. 16 September 2022. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  67. "Billionaires prepare for new battle over French broadcaster M6". Financial Times. 22 September 2022. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 24 September 2022.
  68. "Bertelsmann's RTL scraps plan to sell stake in French TV Group M6". Reuters. 3 October 2022. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  69. Andreeva, Nellie (23 June 2021). "RTL Group & John De Mol's Talpa Network Merge Broadcast & Other Media Operations In Netherlands". Deadline. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  70. Duin, Roelf Jan (28 January 2022). "Nog geen groen licht voor fusie Talpa en RTL". Het Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  71. "Streep door fusie Talpa en RTL, 'consument zou de rekening betalen'". nos.nl (in Dutch). 30 January 2023. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  72. Qui contrôle les chaînes de RTL Belgique? | radio 100,7
  73. "RTL Group sells RTL Belgium to DPG Media and Groupe Rossel". www.rtlgroup.com. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  74. "Der eisige Winter der deutschen TV-Aktien. Kommentar zum Kursverfall bei P7S1 und RTL Group". Meedia (in German). 27 February 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  75. Gerald Braunberger, Georg Meck (15 February 2020). "Die Leute lesen wieder mehr". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 15 June 2020.
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