RTL to receive 50% more per year under new Luxembourg contract
By Yannick Lambert and Annette Welsh
Luxembourg's government plans to pay private media company RTL around 50% more per year to continue and expand its Luxembourgish language television offerings.
The new, €106 million contract would pay the company €15 million a year from 2024 until 2030, plus €1 million for material replacement. The details provided during a closed-door meeting of a parliamentary committee on Tuesday confirmed figures floated by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel earlier this year.
The sum includes plans for more youth, science, sports and culture programming, as well as English-language broadcasts. RTL also would take on the added task of media education and expand cooperation with the University of Luxembourg. The package also includes financial support for RTL's website, a top Bettel aide told lawmakers.
The current RTL contract has been withheld from the public but was made available to members of Luxembourg's parliament in February after a court order. That contract paid RTL €10 million a year, Bettel said in May.
A bill will now need to be introduced and passed by lawmakers for the new contract to come into force by 2024.
RTL Group still employs 600 people at its headquarters in Luxembourg's Kirchberg business district, although many of its operations have been moved to Cologne. The new agreement also is deemed to anchor the broadcaster in the Grand Duchy although its parent company, media giant Bertelsmann, is based in neighbouring Germany.
RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg increased its average daily viewership last year by 22%. Its average prime-time audience topped 50% of all Luxembourgish viewers aged 15 and over who tuned in to evening programming, the company's latest annual report said. Combined with its radio and websites, RTL Luxembourg reached 82% of all Luxembourgers over the age of 15, according to their report.
Separately, RTL Group and Talpa Network confirmed on Wednesday that they would proceed with merging their broadcasting and other media businesses in the Netherlands to face global competitors such as Netflix and Disney. In neighbouring France, RTL wants to merge M6 with TF1 to create a French media champion as part of a new strategic orientation.