RTL Deutschland names chief creative officer Stephan Schmitter as CEO

Stephan Schmitter (Source: RTL)

RTL Group has named Stephan Schmitter as CEO of RTL Deutschland, with a remit across its broadcast operations and streamer RTL+.

Schmitter will retain his chief content officer responsibilities once he takes up his new role on 1 January 2024, which will be a year since former CEO Stephan Schafer stepped down after just 12 months.

The exec will also oversee the recently reorganised publishing business Gruner + Jahr and takes over from RTL CEO Thomas Rabe, who was in interim charge following Schafer’s exit.

Thomas Rabe

Thomas Rabe

Schmitter is a veteran of the German media giant, which has been contending with a depressed advertising market for two years. It revealed its Q3 revenue last week, which was down almost 10%.

He joined RTL Group in 2004 as MD of Berlin-based radio station 105’5 Spreeradio, rising to become CEO of RTL Radio Deutschland in 2018.

A year later, he took on oversight of all audio for RTL Deutschland and was named chief content officer following the combination of RTL Deutschland and Gruner + Jahr in January 2022.

His current remit includes responsibility for all content (entertainment, journalism, fiction, sport and productions from RTL Studios) and brands of RTL Deutschland.

Tapping into RTL+ ‘growth trajectory’

Schmitter will look to build on recent growth for streamer RTL+ and leads a board consisting of Matthias Dang (chief commercial, technology & data officer), Andreas Fischer (COO) and Ingrid Heisserer (CFO).

Despite RTL’s ad woes, Rabe pointed to growth engineered by Schmitter, with RTL “the only main channel in Germany to increase its audience share in the key target group.”

Rabe added: Vox became the second most popular commercial channel, and our family of channels significantly expanded its market leadership.

“At the same time, we continued the growth trajectory of our streaming service RTL+, which currently has around 4.7 million subscribers. I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with Stephan Schmitter and I wish him every success in his new role.”

Schmitter added that he is “convinced we have everything we need to continue shaping the transformation of our business, with great speed and from a position of strength.

“Our goal is to have leading brands in all genres that move and inspire our audiences in Germany, alongside outstanding colleagues full of creative power. And I believe we have the courage to take decisive action in an intensely competitive environment.”

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