Revenues fall in France, U.K.

BERLIN — Pan-European broadcaster RTL Group on Wednesday announced an 8.7% increase in first-quarter operating profit thanks in part to its German TV operations.

The company, which controls Germany’s RTL Television, Five in the U.K. and France’s M6, saw earnings (before interest, taxes and amortization) climb to E188 million ($290 million) while sales slipped 2% to $2 billion, mainly due to lower revenues in the U.K. and France, and also as a result of the strong Euro compared with the U.S. dollar.

While the TV ad markets in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands all grew in the first quarter of 2008, the French and U.K. markets shrank.

The company offered an upbeat assessment of the current year, saying it had no reason to be pessimistic regarding ad sales, despite the current economic climate.

In Germany, RTL Television maintains a clear lead among young viewers thanks to popular formats like “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” and local “Idol” version “Deutschland sucht den Superstar,” as well as hit series such as “House” and “CSI: Miami.”

The group recently relaunched its German licensing arm, UFA Sports, in an effort to invest in the lucrative sports business.

RTL, which remains the most profitable unit of German media giant Bertelsmann, operates 42 TV channels and 32 radio stations in 10 countries.

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