Five-owner RTL reports revenue growth

Thursday, May 6 2010,

European media operator RTL Group has reported strong growth in revenue during the first quarter of 2010, including positive performance from its UK broadcaster Five.

In the three months to the end of March, RTL reported a 7.2% year-on-year increase in revenue to €1.3 billion (£1.1bn), marking its first year-on-year growth since the final quarter of 2008. Reported earnings before interest, tax and amortisation increased 126.4% over the three months to €197m.

RTL, which also owns X Factor producer FremantleMedia, said that the increase in profits was down to "robust growth" in television advertising markets throughout Europe.

"Compared to a weak first quarter in 2009, most of the Western European TV advertising markets recorded robust growth during the first quarter 2010, with Germany, France and the UK showing the best development," said RTL in a statement.

Five is understood to have outperformed the overall 7% year-on-year increase in the UK television advertising market during the first quarter of 2010.

The strong growth will be positive news for Five, which reported a €41m loss last year as its revenues fell 30% year-on-year to €303m.

Five has also recently been mooted as a possible target for commercial partnerships with Channel 4 and ITV, including a full takeover by the latter.

Looking ahead, RTL said that it expects to see continued improvement over the rest of 2010, but remains cautious about declaring a recovery in advertising markets.

"Given the positive business development in the first months of 2010, RTL Group expects to improve on last year's results," said the firm.

"However, developments on the various advertising markets can only be predicted to a very limited degree. This has to do partly with the strong fourth quarter of 2009 - at the moment, no one can tell what the fourth quarter will look like this year, given the low visibility and economic environment."