RTL chief attacks junk food ad ban

August 30, 2023


Thomas Rabe

Thomas Rabe, chief executive of the RTL Group, said that a proposal by the Green food and agriculture minister, Cem Özdemir, to ban junk food adverts was an example of the “overregulation” that was weighing down the largest economy in Europe.

He says it would prevent broadcasters from showing adverts for unhealthy foods aimed at children during certain time slots, would have a “significant” impact on the television industry. “It is a fact of life that the German TV advertising market is the weakest among the bigger advertising markets in Europe and has been for a while,” Rabe told the FT. “That has to do with private consumption, consumer confidence and the like.”

Earlier this month, RTL Group reported a 12.5 % slump in advertising revenue in the first half of 2023 that hit overall revenues and profits. It was driven primarily by a decline in Germany.

Rabe, who is also chief executive of RTL’s parent company Bertelsmann, argued that the German economy was actually “in much better shape than many people think,” adding that there was a “tendency right now to talk the country down”. But he also said that the debate should be a “wake-up call” for politicians who needed to better appreciate the importance of private companies to the nation’s well being.

This week Bertelsmann reported record revenues of almost EUR 10 billion in the first six months of 2023, driven by strong performance at its record label BMG, its education group and its international services division Arvato. But it suffered a squeeze on profits, which fell from EUR 492 million in the first half of 2022 to EUR 260 million in the same period this year.