RTL Considers Acquisitions, Fighting YouTube, MySpace Threat

Luxembourg-based European media group RTL is looking for acquisitions and aims to “fight” the threat posed by social networking and video sharing. Speaking at MipTV in Cannes, CEO Gerhard Zeiler deflected questions about a bid for Dutch super-producer Endemol and instead raised the prospect of smaller acquisitions. “You have to look outside at small business entrepreneurs and invest in new ventures,” The Guardian quoted him as saying, adding that larger companies are less innovative.

Zeiler said RTL must raise the current five percent contributed to its revenues by digital. “We have to explore new platforms like MySpace and YouTube and use different marketing skills and even different content. But look at the most viewed clips on YouTube – there’s a huge amount of TV content on there. These are business models we have to fight because we have to find a way to make money from it.” That remark suggests RTL’s feathers may be ruffled by unauthorized appearance of its programming on the video sites – RTL subsidiaries produce shows including Pop Idol and The X-Factor.

Zeiler refused to reveal the size of RTL’s acquisition budget, but the group is majority-owned by German conglomerate Bertlesmann, which last month signaled an $8 billion warchest for digital acquisitions over the next three years.