RTL Group Annual Report 2021

Our role
in society

The entertainment format
Make Up Your Mind is
a celebration of diversity and
representation: everyone
can be who they want to be.

We believe...

…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 – and this is our role in society.

Our clear set of our brand principles defines who we are, what we do and what we stand for. RTL stands for positive entertainment, independent journalism, inspiration, energy and attitude. Importantly, we act responsibly: We respect people, nature and the communities we serve. We take a stand and embrace diversity and cohesion, sustainability and humanity. We think globally and act locally.

Viewers, listeners, digital users

Every day, millions of people access RTL Group’s content on television, streaming services, 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. We’ve grown over the years by covering the events and issues people care about. The millions of people who turn to us each day for the latest news need to be able to trust us. A healthy, diverse and high-quality media landscape is the foundation of a democratic and connected society. In this light, our local CEOs act as publishers and are not involved in producing content. Our news editors-in-chief apply rigorous ethical standards and ensure compliance with local guidelines. This allows our journalists the freedom to express a range and balance of opinions that reflect the diverse societies we serve.

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

We Are Era launched
the initiative The Female Era
in collaboration with Google,
which aims to further empower
female content creators.

The creative

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 or their own in-house producers. Our global production company, Fremantle, commissions scriptwriters, artists, and many other creatives and our talent agency and digital studio, We Are Era, showcases young video talents.

To enhance our creative output, we are also developing strategic alliances and partnerships. Within the Bertelsmann Content Alliance, RTL Group companies are working closely on several content cooperation projects with other Bertelsmann companies, not only adding value and a competitive edge, but aiming to attract more and new artists and creators. We are also innovating in the market, for example expanding RTL+ to become a unique cross-media entertainment service offering video, music, podcasts, audio books and e-magazines.

Whether we buy a programme from a production company, create one ourselves, or work in partnerships, it involves a substantial investment. Being able to recoup this investment comes from our exclusive right to show and distribute the programme in a particular geographic area.

Successful programmes attract large audiences that, 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. This 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 whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever 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 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.

We want to be the employer of choice, attracting and retaining the best talent. In order to do so, we offer attractive salaries and other financial incentives, plus a wide range of training programmes and individual coaching to help people develop personally and professionally. We foster a fair, flexible and inspiring work environment to help people maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Colleagues from RTL Group
behind the scenes at the
Virtual Management Meeting.

With a diverse audience, we need to be a diverse business. To remain an attractive and successful employer, we 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 non-discrimination throughout all RTL Group companies. To advance our belief in inclusion, Fremantle in the US runs a scheme that connects under-represented workers to job opportunities in Hollywood and helps broaden the diversity of the hiring pool. In the UK, Fremantle created a mentoring programme designed to support 50 Black, Asian and minority-ethnic future leaders. In Germany, UFA made a commitment that by the end of 2024, its full-year programming portfolio will reflect the diversity found in society.

The Covid-19 crisis has deeply changed the world of work. In 2021, we continued to offer flexible mobile office options to all employees whose function did not require their presence at the office, and we introduced hybrid work solutions. We protect those whose roles need to be on site with all advised safety measures.


Television and video commercials are the most effective advertising. TV reaches mass audiences, and so is still the dominant ingredient in the advertising mix. It establishes the key message of a major advertising campaign in a brand-safe environment and then 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.

A Europe without advertising would not be as affluent, informed or competitive. It is a major contributor to overall economic growth. By advertising different products and services, consumers not only get choice, but advertising can also encourage the competition and innovation that maintains that choice.

We also help our advertising clients with their environmental ambitions. Our German advertising sales house, Ad Alliance, joined the Green GRP initiative, with the aim of offsetting campaigns’ CO2 emissions, while M6 Publicité created the first carbon-neutral advertising slot.


As a leading entertainment company across broadcast, streaming, content and digital, we have social responsibilities to the communities and audiences we serve. These include raising 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, but we are well aware of the care and responsibility we must take as both an opinion former and information provider.

Since 1989 we have
raised around €440 million
for children in need.

RTL Deutschland’s anti-
racism TikTok channel aims
to raise awareness for anti-
racism topics.

RTL Deutschland’s anti-
racism TikTok channel aims
to raise awareness for anti-
racism topics.

We strive to give back to our communities by using our profile to raise public awareness of, and funds for, important social issues, particularly those that might otherwise not receive adequate coverage or funding. We provide free airtime worth several million Euro to charities or non-profit organisations, to enable them to raise awareness of their cause. In addition, we donate significant amounts of money to numerous charitable initiatives and foundations. Since 1996, the annual RTL-Spendenmarathon in Germany has raised more than €222 million for children in need, while our Télévie events in Belgium and Luxembourg have raised more than €220 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.


RTL Deutschland’s
“Packen wir’s an” (Let’s
do it) themed weeks
address socially relevant
topics and Fremantle’s
documentary Arctic Drift
focuses on the largest
Arctic expedition to date.

We feel it’s important to combine our business success with responsible action on environmental protection. Conserving resources and protecting the climate are key challenges today. We aim to minimise our impact on the environment by reducing our energy use and our direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, with the aim of being climate-neutral by 2030. In 2021, we established a Group-wide Climate Task Force, aiming to share knowledge on our carbon footprints, and to work together to reduce our emissions significantly.

In addition, we use our scale and reach to draw attention to environmental issues. Since 2019, RTL Deutschland and companies from the Bertelsmann Content Alliance have been running special sustainability weeks to regularly promote socially relevant topics and a sustainable future. Groupe M6 also devotes a large part of its programming to environmental topics, providing extensive on-air, online, and social media coverage to put them under the spotlight.