RTL chief claims record year

EBITDA for 2007 rises 5.5%

BERLIN — Gerhard Zeiler, CEO of pan-European TV giant RTL, claimed last year was the group’s best ever, as he unveiled full-year results for 2007 on Wednesday.

EBITDA for 2007 grew 5.5% to Euros 898 million ($1.37 billion), against Euros 851 million ($1.29 billion) in 2006, resulting in a net profit for 2007 of Euro 563 million ($856 million).

Zeiler said, “By maintaining a firm focus on our core businesses, we grew our operating result for the sixth consecutive year, and generated our highest EBITA margin ever.”

While profit was down 38% from 2006’s Euros 890 million ($1.35 billion), Zeiler attributed the decline to various one-off costs, such as a goodwill payment of Euros 123 million ($187 million) and a payout of Euros 96 million ($146 million) in anti-trust fines from ad purchasing irregularities involving media agency IP Deutschland.

Zeiler said part of the group’s success could be attributed to a boost of 4.6% in the market share of RTL’s German TV stations, at the expense of the webs of the ProSiebenSat.1 Group.

The EBITDA of the German RTL stations increased by 11.6% in comparison to the previous year.

Earnings were also boosted by worldwide production arm FremantleMedia, after another year of strong performance across its main markets resulting in an EBITA up 4.8%, driven by higher earnings from the U.S.

Also responsible were earnings from U.K. web Five, with a positive EBITA of Euros 10 million ($15.2 million) from a net advertising market share increased to 9.3%, driven by additional sales from the digital channels Five US and Five Life.

RTL channels in Belgium and the Netherlands also reported record ad revenues for the year.

Zeiler had good news for shareholders. “Because of our strong earnings for 2007 and a good consistent cash flow, we have decided to pay a dividend of Euros 5 ($7.60), a 67% increase over the previous year.”

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