RTL Group Simplifies Management Structure

CEO Didier Bellens announces change in management structure / Operating units report directly to CEO / COO Ewald Walgenbach leaves RTL Group to become COO of Bertelsmann AG

Luxembourg, 6 February 2002. – RTL Group, Europe’s largest broadcasting and production group, is changing its management structure. With the departure of Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ewald Walgenbach, who becomes COO of Bertelsmann AG, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Didier Bellens is establishing a three-man Executive Committee and a larger Operations Management Committee, which links the operating units directly to the CEO. As a result of the changes, Mr Walgenbach will with immediate effect no longer be an Executive Director of RTL Group’s Board of Directors but will remain a Non-Executive Director of the Board. Furthermore, Johannes Züll, Executive Vice President at RTL Group in charge of Internet and New Technologies, will take a management position within RTL Television in Cologne, which is RTL Group’s largest single operation.

RTL Group’s new Executive Committee is composed of three persons: CEO Didier Bellens, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) Bruno Chauvat and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Thomas Rabe. The role of the COO is replaced by an Operations Management Committee, through which the heads of the main operations now report directly to the CEO. This committee ensures group-wide exchange on strategic and operational matters and has eight members: the Executive Committee and the heads of RTL Group’s main business divisions and operations: Gerhard Zeiler of RTL Television in Cologne, Nicolas de Tavernost of M6 in Paris, Dawn Airey of Channel 5 in London, Tony Cohen, CEO of RTL Group’s production business arm FremantleMedia, as well as Jean-Charles de Keyser, who is responsible for Benelux, Eastern Europe and the radio business.

Didier Bellens commented: “The changed management structure is in line with our stated goal of maintaining an efficient and lean organization within RTL Group. In addition, the Operations Management Committee brings the entrepreneurial spirit of our company to the fore and underlines the international character of our Group. It is based on our experience of close cooperation through different teams, countries and operations. We have worked very hard in the last 18 months to nurture and build a unified pan-European Group, and I thank Ewald Walgenbach sincerely for his vital contribution to this. He has been instrumental in the creation of RTL Group and the development of synergies between TV, radio and worldwide production that give us the edge over our competitors. I also thank Johannes Züll who has made an important contribution to our remarkable success in the world of the Internet and in the development of new businesses.”

For further enquiries:

RTL Group
Roy Addison
Phone: + 352 421 42 5130

Markus Payer
Phone : + 352 421 42 5020


Notes to Editors

With 23 television and 14 radio stations in 8 countries, RTL Group is Europe’s largest TV, radio and production company. The Luxembourg-based media group operates TV channels and radio stations in Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, UK, Luxembourg, Spain and Hungary. It is one of the world’s leading producers of television content such as game shows and soaps, including “Pop Idols”, “Good Times, Bad Times”, “Family Feud” and “The Bill”. At the same time, with more than 80 websites in a number of European countries, RTL Group is ranked at the top of the new-media sector.

Dawn Airey
CEO Channel 5

Dawn Airey (41) joined Central TV in 1985. Within a few years, she rose to the positions of Channel 4 Liaison Officer, Controller of Programme Planning and eventually Director of Programme Planning. In 1993, Airey was appointed ITV’s Controller of Network Children’s and Daytime Programmes. One year later, she joined Channel 4 as their new Controller of Arts & Entertainment. In 1996, Airey was then appointed Director of Programmes for Channel 5 and became CEO four years later.

Didier Bellens
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Didier Bellens (46) held the post of Deputy General Manager of Pargesa Holding S.A., Geneva until September 1992, when he joined Groupe Bruxelles Lambert S.A. as Managing Director.  In March 2000 he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of CLT-UFA, which later became RTL Group. Mr Bellens is also a director of several companies in Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Bruno Chauvat
Chief Strategy Officer (CSO)

Bruno Chauvat (37) started his career as a financial analyst in 1983 covering the media industry. He held several positions in the banking industry and spent four years working for smaller media companies before joining UBS in 1994  as co-head of European media research. In 1997, Chauvat subsequently  joined Audiofina  as Chief Executive Officer.
Tony Cohen
CEO Fremantle Media

Tony Cohen (48), worked as a newspaper journalist before joining London Weekend Television in 1979, 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 CEO of FremantleMedia (formerly known as Pearson Television), RTL Group’s production arm.

Jean Charles De Keyser
Benelux, Eastern Europe & Radio

Jean Charles De Keyser (52) started as a journalist for RTL Radio Bruxelles in 1970 before taking on the positions of Editor in Chief for RTL Télévision and Managing Director of RTL TVI in Brussels. In 1992 he was appointed Executive Vice President of Bel RTL and in 1997 he took on the position of Managing Director of RTL KLUB in Hungary. De Keyser was subsequently appointed Executive Vice President TV & Radio of CLT-UFA in 2000.

Nicolas de Tavernost
Président du Directoire M6

Nicolas de Tavernost worked as Director of the audiovisual activities at Lyonnaise des Eaux in 1986. One year later he joined M6 as Managing Director and became President of M6 Publicité in 1988. De Tavernost is holding the post of Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the M6 Group since the year 2000. He is also Board member of the Métropole Télévision Group and of Club des Girondins.  

Thomas Rabe
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Thomas Rabe (34) 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 in Brussels as well as the “Treuhandanstalt” and the venture capital fund “Beteiligungsgesellschaft Neue Länder” in Berlin. In 1996, he joined Cedel International as a member of the Management Board and, two years later, as Chief Financial Officer. In 2000, he was appointed CFO of RTL Group.

Gerhard Zeiler
Geschäftführer RTL Television

Gerhard Zeiler (46) worked as the press-spokesperson for two Austrian Chancellors between 1983 and 1986. He was then appointed General Secretary of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) in Vienna. In 1991, he joined Tele 5, Munich, as CEO. In the following year Mr. Zeiler took on the same position within RTL 2. He returned to the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation as CEO in 1994 and became CEO of RTL Television in Cologne in 1998.