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Exclusive: RTL looks at expanding broadcasting business beyond Europe

RTL Group CEO Gerhard Zeiler has told TBIvision that the company is looking at expanding its empire beyond Europe. In wide-ranging, exclusive interview Zeiler said that the pan-European broadcast group is considering moving into the Asian market.

RTL has bought into the Greek market in recent years and Zeiler says it will look at further geographical expansion of its broadcasting business. “We can and we will invest in growth regions and businesses,” he said. “If interesting investment opportunities crop up, we are well positioned to go for them. For example, we are considering expanding into Asia within the next five years.”

He added that the company already has an international presence through production and distribution arm FremantleMedia. He said: “Our content arm FremantleMedia is already a worldwide business and we want to grow the unit significantly across all markets and businesses.”

While expanding the footprint is on the agenda, RTL sold out of Channel Five last year. Explaining RTL’s decision to exit the UK broadcasting business Zeiler said it did not fit with the company strategy of being number one, or a strong number two in each of the markets in which it operates.

“Given the competitive environment and the long-term market development, this was not possible and so we – sadly – decided to sell the channel when the economic environment had become more positive,” he said. “Based on the huge cost savings realised under the leadership of Dawn Airey and the positive market development in the UK in 2010, it was already clear in July 2010 that Five would have a positive full-year result again.”

In the TBI interview Zeiler goes on to talk about how dynamic broadcasting companies can deal with the effects of a fragmenting media landscape, the challenge of making digital media pay and investment in original and acquired content. The full text can be read in the latest issue of the magazine, published this week. Zeiler will be at NATPE next week to receive the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award.