Audience share rises but ad revenue slumps

Pan-European broadcast giant RTL has reported an 11.1% slide in revenue to E1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) for the first quarter as advertising markets across Europe reported double-digit declines.

The company, which controls TV stations in Germany, France and the U.K., said that during the first three months of 2009, core profit shrank by 53.7%, down from $252 million to $117 million.

RTL said the results were due to declines across all profit centers, restructuring costs of $12 million and higher-than-anticipated losses following the acquisition of Greece’s Alpha Media Group.

The group said its main webs — RTL TV in Germany, M6 in France and RTL 4 in the Netherlands — “had a powerful start” to 2009, all increasing audience share. Its British web, Five, is being restructured amid staff cuts.

Production subsidiary FremantleMedia is also performing strongly thanks to “American Idol” in the U.S. and “The Apprentice” in the U.K.

RLT announced last month that it is reviewing all costs and structures due to the dismal state of the advertising market.

It warned that this year’s profits are likely to be considerably down on 2008.

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