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 early 1900's.

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 assessment.