Profits dinged, but quarter on upswing

Citing improved business at its main profit centers in the U.K. and Germany, European broadcaster RTL Group posted a 19% revenue increase in the first half of the year to E2.85 billion ($3.65 billion).

Profit dropped 5% to $380 million due to a one-time tax effect.

Nevertheless, company boasted record gross profits of $613 million, signaling improved operations all around.

Content arm FremantleMedia had an “excellent” first half, due to strong business in the U.S. and Blighty, said RTL chief exec Gerhard Zeiler.

RTL, which is 90% owned by German media giant Bertelsmann, reported a 75% boost in profits at its U.K.-based content division FremantleMedia to $108 million on a strong performance in the U.S., the U.K. and in distribution and licensing.

In addition, good ad sales led to a strong perf for German operations, which saw a 40% rise in profit. German assets include leading commercial channel RTL Television and affiliates Vox, RTL 2, Super RTL and news web N-TV.

“Almost all of our business units further increased their EBITA (earning before interest, tax and amortization) contributions” during the first half of the year. “We saw improved advertising conditions in most of our major markets, with the notable exception of the U.K.,” said Zeiler. RTL owns the U.K.’s smallest private terrestrial web, Five.

The topper added the group’s broadcasters had “launched a number of new initiatives aimed at increasing the revenue we receive from non-advertising sources.”

In Germany, RTL Television will unveil three new pay channels and a video-on-demand venture this fall.

Zeiler said he was “cautious but optimistic on the outlook for advertising in the second half of the year, where visibility remains limited.”

He added: “RTL Group is extremely well positioned to further strengthen its position as Europe’s leading entertainment network.”

Europe’s leading broadcasting group, RTL has interests in 34 TV channels and 34 radio stations in 11 countries.

(Steve Clarke in London contributed to this report.)

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