Net profits at pan-European TV network RTL Group nearly tripled last year to €611 million ($845 million), driving pre-tax operating profit to a record high of $1.5 billion, up 40% on the previous year and a $270 million improvement over the group’s previous best result.

RTL’s annual revenue climbed 8.4% to $7.7 billion thanks to strong performances from its main TV units — RTL Deutschland in Germany, Groupe M6 in France, RTL Nederland and RTL Belgium — reflecting strong growth in TV advertising markets across Western Europe.

RTL chief exec Gerhard Zeiler attributed the bottom line boost to the popularity of RTL’s channels as well as to major cost cuts.

“We’ve capitalized on the economic recovery because our TV channels emerged stronger from the crisis than before.”

RTL’s U.K.-based production arm FremantleMedia reported revenue growth of 7.5%, boosted by higher revenue in North America and France as well as portfolio and exchange rate effects, resulting in an operating profit of $194 million.

While pointing out that television profited more strongly than other media from the economic recovery in 2010, Zeiler said it was not possible to provide an accurate forecast for the current year.

“As a consequence, RTL Group remains cautious while at the same time being very optimistic about the TV industry’s overall growth prospects.”