Income up despite 5% revenue drop

BERLIN — Boosted by cost-cutting measures and improving results in key markets Germany and France as well as in the Netherlands, pan-European broadcasting giant RTL Group posted a 22.7% increase in profits to Euros 92 million ($138 million) in the third quarter even though revs dropped 5% to $1.7 billion.

The Luxembourg-based group, Europe’s leading broadcasting conglom with 45 TV channels and 32 radio stations in 11 countries, said Tuesday it has benefited from rigorous cost-cutting efforts. It also saw improved advertising bookings in the third quarter.

But the group — which includes its RTL channels in Germany, the M6 group in France and the Five group in the U.K. — said its outlook for the full-year remained cautious. The TV industry in Europe has been hit by shrinking corporate advertising budgets in the wake of the global financial crisis. It’s also being squeezed by growing competition from digital channels.

“The group remains cautious because there is no visibility for the rest of the year,” RTL Group said in announcing its third quarter results, which were in any event a clear improvement over the first half results when it suffered a $150 million loss on revenues that fell by 9.6% to $3.7 billion. “Thanks to the cost-cutting efforts, whose impact is still unfolding, RTL Group is confident it can continue to mitigate the EBITA decline.”

RTL said advertising revenues had picked up in nearly all markets since September compared with the first eight months of the year.

In Germany, where RTL has been number one in the 14-49 target group for more than 200 consecutive months, the web had a record-breaking month in October — the best ratings of any Teuton web since January 2004. RTL had an 18.4% share in the 14-49 target group in Europe’s biggest economy and a 13.5% share overall, compared with pubcasters ARD’s 12.7% and ZDF’s 12.2%.

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