New management structure at RTL Group

Luxembourg, 17 March 2003. RTL Group, Europe’s leading broadcaster and content provider, today announces a new management structure following the appointment last week of Gerhard Zeiler as CEO of RTL Group.

Mr Zeiler said today: ”The new structure reflects the company’s internal needs and the challenges it faces from outside. In the three years since the merger RTL Group has really grown together and is in excellent shape. We will now further focus on the operational business of the company and strengthen our excellent management team at that level.”  

The new Executive Committee will consist of four people: Gerhard Zeiler, CEO; Thomas Rabe, Chief Financial Officer; Thomas Hesse, Chief Strategy Officer; and Tony Cohen, CEO of FremantleMedia.

Nicolas de Tavernost, CEO of M6, will be permanently invited to participate in the Executive Committee. Moreover he will be consulted specifically on all strategic issues in French-speaking territories and Spain.

Bruno Chauvat, Chief Strategy Officer will leave the company.

Thomas Rabe, Group Financial Officer, will continue to be responsible for Finance and IT at the RTL Group headquarters in Luxembourg. Additionally he will head all the corporate centre functions except communications and will assume operational responsibility for all the Group’s Luxembourg activities.

Thomas Hesse, who is currently Chief Strategic Officer for BMG in New York, will be responsible for the overall strategy and development of RTL Group. He will also oversee some of the operational activities.

Gerhard Zeiler, apart from his responsibilities as CEO of RTL Group, will continue to oversee the German broadcasting activities.

The Operations Management Committee, set up in February 2002 to increase information sharing and co-operation between the Group’s operating heads, will continue in its present form.

Gerhard Zeiler said: “I’m very happy to have been able to re-organise the management structure of RTL Group so effectively and fast and I welcome Thomas Hesse aboard at RTL Group. 

“At the same time I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bruno Chauvat for the work he has done for the company, not least in the setting up of RTL Group at the time of the merger. He has been integral to the strategy that has helped put the company in such a strong position today and I wish him well for the future.”

For further enquiries:

RTL Group
Roy Addison
Phone: (352) 421 42 5020
Fax:     (352) 421 42 5139



Thomas Rabe, 37, born in Luxembourg-Ville, holds a Diploma and a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Cologne. He started his career in 1989 at the European Commission in Brussels. From 1990 to 1996 he held various senior positions at Forrester Norall & Sutton (now White & Case) in Brussels as well as the state privatisation agency Treuhandanstalt and a venture capital fund in Berlin. In 1996, he joined Cedel International (Clearstream, following the merger with Deutsche Börse Clearing) where he was appointed Chief Financial Officer and member of the Management Board in 1998. In 2000, Thomas Rabe joined RTL Group as Chief Financial Officer and member of the Executive Committee. He is member of several Boards of Directors, including of CLT-UFA, RTL Television, Holland Media Group, Channel 5 and Sportfive.

Thomas Hesse, born in Brussels in 1966, began his career as a Consultant with McKinsey and Company in Vienna and New York in 1991. He joined Bertelsmann in 1996 as Head of Business Development for UFA, Bertelsmann's TV Holding company, later merged into CLT-UFA, where he retained the same position. In 1999, he moved to RTL Television, RTL Group's largest subsidiary, as Secretary General in charge of Program Acquisition & Sales and Business & Legal Affairs. In 2000, he became CEO of the newly founded RTL NEWMEDIA, subsuming RTL Television's ancillary businesses, including Merchandising and Internet/Digital Television. Early 2002, he moved to Bertelsmann AG, Guetersloh, as Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Strategy. In Fall 2002, he transferred from the Guetersloh Corporate Center to New York to join BMG as Chief Strategic Officer,responsible for M&A and New Technologies. Thomas Hesse holds a B.A. and M.A. from Oxford University, an M.Sc. from London School of Economics, and a Doctorate in Finance from St. Gallen University, Switzerland. He also trained as a concert pianist.

Tony Cohen, born in 1953, worked as a newspaper journalist before joining London Weekend Television in 1980, where he held senior editorial posts. In 1995, he was appointed managing director of the Broadcasting Division of Pearson Television. He later became co-chairman of the North American division of Pearson Television, and president of its production operation in Los Angeles. In 2000, he returned to Europe to run the company’s worldwide production, and then became chief executive officer of RTL Group’s production arm, FremantleMedia (formerly known as Pearson Television), based in London.

Nicolas de Tavernost, born in France in 1950, started his career in 1974 at the French Foreign Trade Department. In 1976, he moved to Zurich to become secretary for the French Chamber of Commerce. One year later, he returned to France as press spokesperson for the Ministry for Post and Telecommunications, working to Norbert Segard. From 1981 to 1986, de Tavernost headed various governmental delegations, and eventually worked as director of the audiovisual activities at Lyonnaise des Eaux. In 1987, he joined M6 as managing director and became president of M6 Publicité in 1988. Since May 2000, de Tavernost has held the post of chairman of the Management Board of the M6 Group.