RTL Group S.A.
Halfway between downtown Luxembourg City and the airport lies
Kirchberg, a suburb of offices buildings, European Union institutions,
apartment complexes and a large retail complex. Tucked away on
one of the side streets is where RTL Group, one of Europe's largest
television and radio station operators, has it's headquarters.
It's a complex of reflective glass buildings with the tallest
looking to be about eight stories.
Founded in1984, revenues in 2004 totaled $6.6 billion with over
8,000 employees. It's a publicly-traded company but Germany media
giant Bertelsmann owns about 90%.
First, visitors park in the parking lot (including guys on bicycles)
and then one has to pass through turnstile gates. Then before
entering a building a security guard sitting behind a glass enclosure
gives you the once over. I don't make it to the reception counter
as I have to explain myself to the friendly security guard. While
the guard checks to see who ended up with my letter of introduction
mailed five weeks earlier to CEO Gerhard Zeiler I take a seat
in the waiting area. The white leather sofas and chairs give
a relaxing feel to the waiting room. Along the walls are glass
display cases filled with all kinds of antique radios, film projectors
and movie cameras. Some of the radios date from the 1890's and
After a 15 minute wait a woman who identifies herself only as
someone from "internal communications" comes up and
says they know nothing about my letter to CEO Zeiler. He's only
here two days a week and spends the rest of the time in RTL offices
in Cologne, Germany. Hmm, so who ended up with my letter? I ask
if someone has a few minutes to meet with me. The woman says
she can't because she's "internal communications" (as
opposed to external communications) and goes on to say many people
are on vacation including the company's spokesperson. "So",
I ask in disbelief, "if the company spokesperson is on vacation
nothing gets said?" I explain this is my only opportunity
to visit the company but it falls on deaf ears. Over the years
I've visited dozens of media companies around the world and found
media concerns to be one of my least favorite groups to visit.
Why? They're generally inflexible, inhospitable and hard to pry
information out of. My lack of reception here only verifies that