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RTL Group First-Half Profit Rises on Improved Advertising

RTL Group, Europe's biggest commercial broadcaster, reported a 7.7% rise in operating profit in the first half of 2007 on the back of improved advertising sales in most countries it operates in.

Earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) advanced to 515 million euros ($704 million) from 478 million euros in year-earlier period, RTL said on Tuesday.

"The operating result for the first six months exceeded 500 million for the first time, largely fueled by our three major profit centres -- the family of channels in Germany, the M6 Group in France, and FremantleMedia," Chief Executive Gerhard Zeiler said in a statement.

"We remain cautious but optimistic on the outlook for advertising in the second half of the year where visibility remains limited," Zeiler said.

Revenue for the group rose 1.3% to 2.89 billion euros.

Profit attributable to RTL group shareholders was down 2% at 290 million euros, the company said.

RTL said it saw its best audience market share in the first six months of the year in the competitive German market, where it is up against commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1.

The German rival recently merged with SBS Broadcasting and plans to challenge RTL's leading position in Europe.

RTL said its German channels had increased their lead over ProSiebenSat.1 in the first half to 4.5 percentage points.

RTL Group has stakes in TV channels and radio stations across Europe. German media conglomerate Bertelsmannowns 90% of RTL.