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RTL Group

RTL Group
Company nameRTL Group S.A.
Company typePublic
SloganRTL Group, the leading European Entertainment Network
HeadquartersKirchberg, Luxembourg
Key peopleSiegfried Luther, Chairman
Gerhard Zeiler, CEO
Elmar Heggen, CFO
Revenue(+) -5.774 billion (2008)
Employees9,191 (2008)

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RTL Group (LuxSE - RTL) is Europe's largest TV, radio and production company, and is majority-owned by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann. It has 45 television and 32 radio stations in 11 countries. This Luxembourg-based media group operates TV channels and radio stations in Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, Luxembourg, Spain, Greece , Hungary, Croatia and production companies in the United States.

It is one of the world's leading producers of television content such as game shows and soaps (particularly through its ownership of London-based FremantleMedia), including The X Factor, Pop Idol, Good Times, Bad Times, The Price Is Right, Family Feud, The Bill, and, under licence from Mark Burnett Productions, the producer of non-US versions, and distributor of all versions internationally, of The Apprentice and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?.

RTL originally stood for Radio Télévision Luxembourg (in French) or Radio Television Luxemburg (in German).

The RTL Group started in 1931 as CLR or Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion which operated Radio Luxembourg. CLR was one of 23 founding broadcasting organisations of the European Broadcasting Union in 1950. The RTL Group is still an EBU-member under a previous name: CLT Multi Media. In 1954 it was renamed CLT or Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion and started television broadcasts. In 1997 it merged with Hamburg-based UFA Film- und Fernseh-GmbH (not to be confused with pre 1945 UFA) to create CLT-UFA. In 2000 it merged with Pearson TV and became RTL Group, which also allowed it to enter the American broadcast market. As of October 2005, Bertelsmann owns 90.4% of the company.

One of the major reasons for RTL's early success, apart from the merits related to the programming content itself, was that Luxembourg allowed commercial radio and TV stations long before other European countries. This flexibility enabled RTL to transmit to other countries (such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Netherlands) in their own languages. Many British radio presenters began their careers on Radio Luxembourg before moving to the BBC and to commercial broadcasters in the UK. In the 1970s, Radio Luxembourg's English-language audiences declined as a result of new music stations in the UK, and the service ceased broadcasting in the early 1990s on the Astra 1A satellite. Radio Luxembourg relaunched in November 2005 and is currently available online at and on Digital Radio Mondiale. A sister station, Atlantic 252 was a long-wave radio station jointly run by RTL Group and Irish broadcaster RTÉ. It ceased broadcasting live on December 20, 2001.

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