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RTL Group ’04 revs soar to $492 mil

M6 achieved largest growth

COLOGNE — RTL Group, Europe’s largest broadcasting company, saw net profits surge to $492 million in 2004 from $19 million a year earlier thanks to its French, Spanish and British subsids, the company reported Thursday.

Revenues totaled $6.56 billion, 2.2% down on a pro forma basis excluding the full consolidation of commercial web M6 in France last year.

Last year was a record one for RTL Group, said CEO Gerhard Zeiler. “We have continued to manage our portfolio of assets, expanded into Croatia and Portugal and strengthened our families of channels in France and Belgium.”

The Luxembourg-based group reported a good ad climate in most of its Euro markets, with growth of 15% in Spain, where it operates Antena 3, and 6.5% in the U.K. and France, where it runs commercial terrestrial webs M6 and Antena 3, respectively.

In Germany, the group’s largest single market, where it runs RTL TV, Vox, RTL2, Super RTL and news web n-tv, the company reported a 1% drop in operating profit to $351 million as advertising continued to stagnate.

“In the first two months of 2005, the picture remains mixed,” said Zeiler. “We are cautious on how the advertising markets will develop this year.”

Largest growth was achieved by M6, which more than doubled its operating profit to $280 million. In the Netherlands, operating profit rose by 56% to $52 million; in the U.K. it doubled to $24 million.

Zeiler said the company will keep diversifying its business activities and continue international expansion.

RTL operates 31 TV broadcasters and 30 radio stations in 10 countries. It produces some 8,000 hours of TV programming annually through its FremantleMedia unit.

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