TV ad sales, content offset lackluster biz across Europe

BERLIN — Higher TV ad sales in Germany and a strong performance by U.K. production and sales subsid FremantleMedia helped boost third-quarter revenue at pan-European media giant RTL Group.

The Luxembourg-based company posted a 5.5% hike in revenue to Euros 1.3 billion ($1.65 billion), with profit (before interest, tax and amortization) up 5.8% to $209 million.

While nearly all of RTL’s TV ad markets across Europe saw declines in the third quarter in view of an increasingly dire economic environment, the German market grew slightly, the company said.

The RTL Germany unit comprises leading commercial web RTL Television, Vox, RTL 2, tyke outlet Super RTL and news channel N-TV.

U.S. fare such as “CSI Miami” — currently in its final season here — has helped keep RTL Television the top rated channel among the key 14-49 demo, along with hit local shows like “Alarm for Cobra 11″ and daily soap “Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten” (Good Times, Bad Times).

In the U.K., the phasing of production and proceeds from the sale of a London building increased FremantleMedia’s revenues between July and September, RTL added.

In the first nine months of the year, the group’s revenue grew by 4% to $5.2 billion, again mainly reflecting higher revenue from RTL Germany and FremantleMedia as well as exchange rate effects.

Earnings (before interest, tax and amortization) fell 9.8% to $852.5 million in the period, however, as challenging market conditions in other countries, higher investment in programming and portfolio effects such as the disposal of RTL’s Dutch radio stations offset the higher profit contribution from German TV operations.

Nevertheless, RTL re-confirmed the full-year forecast presented in August, which foresees “a solid level of EBITA, although not at the record level of 2011.”

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