Luxembourgh Times

Luxembourg expands programming deal with RTL

Government's pledge to pay up to €15 million per year new contract with the television company replaces a 25-year-old financing plan

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel © Photo credit: AFP

Luxembourg lawmakers on Tuesday adopted legislation that could pay RTL Group up to 50% more per year to continue and expand its TV, radio and digital programming.

The new contract worth up to €106 million was approved by Parliament.

The agreement calls for the Grand Duchy to pay the Luxembourg-based but Cologne-operated RTL up to €15 million a year for seven years beginning in 2024, plus €1 million for replacing equipment. The deal, which would also extend the company's offerings in the Luxembourgish language, was first described by the prime minister last year.

RTL's Luxembourg subsidiary CLT-UFA has produced Luxembourgish information, culture and sports programs since 1995. Until 2020, CLT-UFA and RTL Group produced the programs in return for the company's use of broadcasting frequencies in Luxembourg, according to a parliamentary report explaining the new legislation.

But as value of the frequencies slumped and production costs increased, the company and government switched in 2017 to a contract which had the government pay RTL €10 million a year between 2021 and 2023.

RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg, the only general-interest TV channel broadcast in Luxembourgish, last year attracted an average of 138,700 viewers per day, down from 153,000 in 2020, according to the company's annual report released last week.

The new contract includes more youth, science, sports and culture programming, as well as English-language broadcasts. RTL will also take on a media education mission and expand cooperation with the University of Luxembourg.

RTL generated revenue of €75 million from adverts and other sources in Luxembourg last year, which was 1.1% of the company's total income of €6.6 billion, the company's annual report said. RTL Luxembourg's combined TV, radio and digital offerings reached 82% of all Luxembourgers aged 15 and over, the company said.

(Additional reporting by Emery P. Dalesio)