German group RTL plans to cut 700 magazine jobs

7.02.2023, 14:49

By Anna Ringle, dpa

German media giant RTL is planning to cut about 700 of the 1,900 jobs in its magazine segment run by the former publisher Gruner + Jahr.

To this end, many magazine titles will be discontinued, while investments will be made in the remaining core brands, such as Stern, primarily in digital, the media group announced on Tuesday.

The background to the job cuts is feared financial losses in the declining publishing business.

In concrete terms, the plans envisage the following: 13 brands including major names like Stern, Stern Crime and Brigitte as well as the digital sections of the family title Eltern and cookery-focused Chefkoch will remain in the portfolio. According to the company, they account for about 70% of sales.

Investments of around €80 million ($86 million) are planned by 2025.

All other magazine titles will be discontinued or sold. RTL sees no future, for example, for offshoots of the core brands such as the history title Geo Epoche and Geo Wissen for science, Brigitte Woman and View.

The chairman of the management board of RTL Deutschland, Thomas Rabe, told dpa: "Many of the titles are spin-offs. We cannot imagine selling them if we keep the core brands Geo and Brigitte. Otherwise, uniform brand management would not be possible."

The celebrity magazines Guido, based on designer Guido Maria Kretschmer, and Barbara, based on TV presenter Barbara Schöneberger, will also be discontinued. There are 23 titles in all.

RTL is looking into selling five brands and stakes in others.

Rabe, who is also chief executive of German conglomerate and parent company Bertelsmann, said about the current status: "There had been expressions of interest - verbally and in writing. But there have been no exploratory or sales talks, let alone offers. We will start talks in the next few weeks."

He said the first step would be to talk to the works council and the employees. "Then we will calmly sound out the market in the next few weeks and see who is really interested in which title and in which chronological order we will hand over the titles."

RTL's plans will result in around 500 jobs being cut. This is to be done "gradually until the end of 2025." The vast majority of the job cuts will affect Hamburg and are not planned in the editorial area, but in administrative areas. In addition, about 200 jobs would be transferred to new owners as a result of the planned sale.

With the elimination of about 700 jobs, this would be more than one in three of the 1,900 full-time positions in the magazine segment, which are mainly based in Hamburg.

RTL Deutschland, headquartered in Cologne, had integrated the German magazine division of the Hamburg publishing house into its portfolio by 2022 and is hoping for synergies. Both divisions belong to the Bertelsmann Group.

In recent months, RTL has been reviewing its magazine portfolio. There had been protests from employees and trade unionists against a possible sale of the titles of the Hamburg publishing house, which for decades was one of the most powerful media houses in Europe.