Annual Report 2020

Our role in


…video is the most complete medium. There is no better way to tell a story. Video engages our mind and captures our heart. It demands our attention and inspires our imagination.

Since our first radio broadcast in 1924, and through the growth of video and digital, our aim has always been to entertain, inform and engage our audiences. This is our role in society.

Our Mission Statement defines who we are, what we do and what we stand for. It reflects our role in society and guides us in our work. It includes a commitment to embrace independence and diversity in our people, our content and our businesses. Being a responsible company is integral to our mission.


Every day, millions of people access RTL Group’s content on television, digital platforms and radio. This audience is at the heart of what we do.

We’ve never strayed from our commitment to be ‘refreshingly different’ and ‘always close to the audience’ and we pride ourselves on covering the events and issues people care about. A healthy, diverse and high-quality media landscape is the foundation of a democratic and connected society, and the millions of people who turn to us each day for the latest news need to be able to trust us. Our commitment to independence and diversity in our content means we can maintain journalistic balance and reflect the diverse opinions of the societies we serve. In keeping with this commitment, the CEOs of our local business units act as publishers, while selecting and producing content is the responsibility of our editors-in-chief and programme directors.

Since the early 1990s, we’ve been building families of TV channels, radio stations, digital platforms and streaming services that offer our diverse audiences a vast range of high-quality entertainment and information programmes. We also take great care to protect all media users.


We succeed in entertainment by building inspiring environments where creative and pioneering spirits can thrive. Our broadcasters and streaming services commission content from production companies. Our own production company, Fremantle, commissions scriptwriters, artists, and other creatives, and our digital platforms showcase young video talents.

To enhance our creative output we continue to develop strategic alliances and partnerships. Within the Bertelsmann Content Alliance, RTL Group companies are working closely on several content cooperation projects with other Bertelsmann companies, with the aim of adding value and a competitive edge, as well as attracting new artists and creators. In 2019, we launched a new creative unit – Format Creation Group (FC Group) – to develop non-scripted formats exclusively for RTL broadcasters and their streaming services. The unit aims to fulfil the growing demand for exclusive content by developing innovative formats and intellectual property, fully owned and controlled by RTL Group. FC Group currently focuses on entertainment formats, reality and game shows, working closely with RTL broadcasters to reflect their local market needs. Whether we buy a programme from a production company, create one ourselves, or work within partnerships, it involves a substantial investment. Being able to recoup this investment comes from our exclusive rights to show and distribute the programme in a particular geographic area.

Successful programmes attract large audiences which, in turn, attract advertisers who pay us to show their commercials. This cycle ensures production companies and other creators are suitably rewarded, so they can continue to develop new, entertaining and compelling content.

Maintaining the integrity of this cycle is crucial, which is why copyright is the lifeblood of our industry. Effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights are especially important in a digital world, where people can watch what they want, where they want, when they want. Without this protection and enforcement, the rewards to creators would fade away – as would their creativity. Our unwavering commitment to copyright is therefore one important way in which we add value to society.


Our business is based on talent. We depend on the creativity and dedication of our employees, so we give our people the freedom to create.

To recruit, retain and reward our employees, we offer attractive salaries and other financial incentives. We foster a fair, flexible and inspiring work environment and offer talent management and succession planning programmes.

We want to be the employer of choice, and so we offer a wide range of opportunities for our people to develop personally and professionally, to advance their careers, and to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Our diverse audience requires us to be a diverse business. To remain an attractive and successful employer, we must reflect the audiences we entertain, and so we embrace workplace diversity in gender, ethnicity, disability and socio-economic status. We offer equal opportunities and recognise everyone’s unique value, treating each person with courtesy, honesty and dignity. In our Diversity Statement, we reinforce our commitment to equal opportunities and nondiscrimination throughout all RTL Group companies.

This is why UFA made a commitment to become more diversified both in front of and behind the camera. By the end of 2024, UFA’s full-year programming portfolio should reflect the diversity found in society. UFA will regularly monitor the phased goals made in this commitment, and will publish its performance by the end of 2021.

The Covid-19 pandemic is largely responsible for the new ‘working from home’ trend that has become a reality at RTL Group. Since the beginning of the crisis, we have offered flexible home-office options to employees who can work from home, and enhanced safety measures for staff who need to remain on site.

Similarly, our responsibility to society grows with every broadcast we make or viewer we gain. Our programmes also reflect important socio-cultural topics. Bel RTL and RTL-TVI, for example, set out to help their viewers cope better with lockdown. Belges à domicile (Belgians at home) launched in March to address the questions everyone was asking during this extraordinary situation: How do we keep the kids occupied? How can we help our neighbours? How do we show the elderly they are not alone? The phone-in show let people share their tips and tricks for coping.


Television and video commercials are
the most effective advertising.

TV reaches mass audiences, and so it remains the dominant ingredient in the advertising mix. It establishes the key message of a major advertising campaign in a brand-safe environment and resonates across other media. We’ve taken many steps to expand our position in the rapidly growing markets for addressable TV and online video advertising.

Television and video commercials work best when they tell interesting, informative stories that connect with viewers’ emotions. Together, high-quality programming and engaging commercials are the basis for successful free-to-air broadcasting. Advertising helps shape people’s lifestyles, guides their purchasing decisions and keeps the global economy moving. It also fosters media neutrality – an essential ingredient of a democratic society. Our free TV channels are mainly financed by advertising.

Advertising is a major contributor to economic growth, and a Europe without advertising would not be as affluent, informed or competitive. Advertising supports the competition and innovation that maintain consumer choice, and educates on the different products and services available.

As well as affecting global advertising markets, the Covid-19 pandemic has harmed small and medium-sized companies. To support these businesses, RTL Nederland launched an initiative to offer free advertising as part of ‘Nederland gaat weer open’. The commercials were also distributed online, using RTL Nederland’s network.



As a leading media organisation, we are in an excellent position to raise awareness of important social and environmental issues, particularly those that might otherwise go unreported or under-funded. We do this through TV and radio reports, magazine programmes and series, and on many digital platforms, and we are well aware of the care and responsibility we must take as both an opinion former and information provider.

We also harness our profile, and the power of TV, radio and the internet, to raise money for charities that make a positive difference to people’s lives. This is a contribution to society that only we can make, and we readily take on this responsibility.

Since 1996, the annual RTL-Spendenmarathon in Germany has raised more than €199 million for children in need, while our Télévie events in Belgium and Luxembourg have raised more than €208 million for scientific research to fight cancer – particularly leukaemia – since 1989. We also support many organisations and projects that help sick or disadvantaged children and young people in Croatia, Belgium, Hungary, the UK, France and the Netherlands.

The climate and the environment remain at the centre of public debate. In 2020, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and Groupe M6 established special sustainability weeks to draw attention to this important topic. With a focus on food, nutrition and sustainability, extensive on-air, online, and social media coverage put the topic under the spotlight.

In addition, UFA Show & Factual provided exclusive video footage of the largest Arctic expedition ever in a comprehensive documentary, Arctic Drift. The aim was to gain a clearer understanding of climate change, as the Arctic is where the weather patterns of the future will emerge.