RTL Group Pre-close Trading Update 2002

Luxembourg, 20 January 2003 - RTL Group, Europe’s leading broadcaster and content provider, is today making the following trading update for the twelve months ending December 31, 2002, ahead of its full year results announcement in March 2003.

Didier Bellens, Chief Executive of RTL Group, commented: “In common with other European broadcasters RTL Group continues to operate its businesses in a tough market for advertising and with little visibility on future advertising trends. We have responded by focusing on improving the efficiency of our operations and working to realise the synergies available within the business. Cost controls have and are being implemented across the Group, in both headquarters and operating companies, with the result that the overall cost base remains flat.

The performance from Five in the UK was exceptional with audience share and advertising market share in the second half maintaining the strong growth trends seen in the first six months of the year. In France, M6 consolidated its position as the clear number two, and our radio business continued its recovery.

Germany, our main market, suffered a second successive yearly downturn in advertising spend, but RTL Television increased its market share and overall our trading performance in the last quarter was better than expected.

The outlook for advertising across Europe in 2003 remains uncertain despite the stronger than expected last quarter of 2002 in Germany.  We are not, yet, confident enough to say that any sustained recovery is underway. However, RTL Group is well placed to benefit from a rebound when it comes.”

Television: Audience and advertising shares


 Audience market share
14-49 (%)

 Advertising market share






 Germany (1)  RTL










 Super RTL











 Audience market share
15-34 (%)

 Advertising market share

 France (2)  M6






 Audience market share
4+ (%)

 Advertising market share

 UK (3)  Channel 5






 Audience market share
Shoppers 20-49
(18:00-24:00 hrs) (%)

 Advertising market share

 Netherlands (4)  RTL4
















 Audience market share
Shoppers 18-44
(17:00-23:00 hrs) (%)

 Advertising market share

 Belgium (5)  RTL TVI






 Club RTL





Sources (for audience / for advertising):
1)  GfK / A.C.Nielsen Werbeforschung S+P;    2) Mediametrie / SECODIP;  3) BARB / Industry Sources;
4) Intomart / BBC;  5) Audiometrie CIM Sud / MDB Videotrack (w/o barter and w/o pay TV)


Television:  In Germany, the commercial television industry is still coping with the worst advertising downturn in its history. Despite falling revenues, the RTL family of channels concentrated on maintaining audience and advertising share with notable successes being achieved by VOX, which grew significantly during the year.

The RTL Group of channels is now the clear leader in the key 14-49 target group and RTL Television retained its position of market leadership in the same target group for the 10th successive year as well as being No 1 among the total audience. The success in terms of audience share bodes well for the future and reflects the continued investments being made in quality programming. This is all the more remarkable considering the broadcast of the Winter Olympics and the Soccer World Cup by public service channels.
In France, the advertising market was stable with M6 consolidating its position as the clear number two. In the Netherlands there were some slight indications of advertising recovery in what is a very competitive market. Significant restructuring is being implemented in the Netherlands to bring the business back to our expected profitability level.

In the UK, Channel 5, now re-branded as Five, increased both ratings and revenue significantly, resulting in a near breakeven position at EBITA level in its fifth year of operation.

Radio:  RTL Radio in France held its position as the clear market leader, although changes to the audience measurement system from the end of 2002 threaten the position of the overall family of channels. In Germany, our stations were also relatively stable in a difficult market. Our presence in the German market has been enhanced by the acquisition of various radio interests from Holtzbrinck, for which full regulatory clearance is still being sought.

Content: Our international production business FremantleMedia continued to invest in creativity, leading to the development of some new formats, including Pop Idol, which continues to impress in all territories to which it has been sold. The number of formats developed and hours of programming sold reached record levels. FremantleMedia  is operating in a difficult environment where the advertising downturn is making broadcasters increasingly cost conscious.

Sportfive, in which RTL holds a 46.4 per cent stake, underwent a year of transition following the merger of UFA Sports with Sport Plus and Groupe Jean-Claude Darmon in 2001. Sportfive faces difficult market conditions with pressure being put on the value of sports rights.

For further enquiries:



RTL Group RTL Group
Roy Addison
Phone: 00352 421 42 5020
Andrew Buckhurst
Phone: 00352 421 42 5074
Finsbury Finsbury
Julius Duncan
Phone: 0044 20 7251 3801
Katie Lang
Phone: 0044 20 7521 3801