RTL Group’s CR priorities

26.02.2021, Germany/Luxembourg, RTL Group

Based on a corporate responsibility (CR) relevance analysis, Bertelsmann has defined eight CR priorities. RTL Group is continuing to drive forward the expansion of its CR on this basis. 

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Based on the survey results from a recent CR relevance analysis, the Bertelsmann Executive Board has adopted eight priority topics in the area of corporate responsibility* (Backstage reported). In addition to these priorities for the Bertelsmann Group, the individual divisions set their own priorities. Internal and external RTL Group stakeholders rate the three strategic fields of action of Content Responsibility & Journalistic Independence, Diversity & Inclusion, and Climate Change as particularly relevant for RTL Group.

There have been important and successful activities in all three areas in recent years, but there is still room for improvement to fulfil the ambitious goals to develop the topic of CR across our Group. Below you will find some examples of CR projects that have already been implemented.

Perception of RTL Group regarding Corporate Responsibility

Content Responsibility & Journalistic Independance

Especially in times of fake news and online disinformation, it is essential to maintain public trust and uncompromisingly ensure that news and information are broadcast in compliance with strong journalistic principles. RTL channels’ news reporting is based on editorial and journalistic independence. RTL Group’s commitment to impartiality, responsibility and other core journalistic principles is laid down in its Newsroom Guidelines.

This year, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Content Alliance, launched the “JAhr zur Wahrheit. Because it’s got to be true.” initiative (Backstage reported). At a time when populism, opinion manipulation and conspiracy theories are unsettling people and threatening social cohesion, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and its Bertelsmann Content Alliance partners are demonstrating journalistic strength, quality, responsibility and reliability.

Particularly in the coronavirus pandemic, the Group’s content responsibility increased sharply. News was broadcast in real time, for example, and special programmes were produced on specific topics. During the initial coronavirus lockdown, Groupe M6’s newsrooms at M6 and RTL Radio (France) adapted their programming, increased the interactivity opportunities with their audience, strengthened their efforts in the battle against fake news (Backstage reported). RTL Radio also has created a special ‘Coronavirus brigade’ – a team of journalists that fight fake news during the crisis (Backstage reported). Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland’s news channel NTV saw its audience share double over several weeks in spring 2020, and young audiences in particular turned unusually often to the traditional medium of linear TV (Backstage reported). RTL Nederland’s RTL Nieuws continued to deliver high-quality, reliable news during the crisis. It was especially important due to the high amount of misleading information, as the news consumers need to be able to count on the accuracy of the news they hear (Backstage reported).

Since September 2019, Sonja Schwetje, Editor-in-Chief of NTV, has been Chair of the Bertelsmann Working Group on Freedom of the Press (Backstage reported). In this context, representatives of various divisions deal with current issues concerning the editorial and journalistic independence of Bertelsmann Group news organisations. In recent meetings, for example, the successive restrictions on the independent press in Hungary and disinformation campaigns regarding the coronavirus pandemic were discussed.


Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity is essential to the quality of our work, and has always been a natural part of our offerings. In 2020, 24 percent of management positions were already filled by women, and this is to be increased to one third by the end of 2021.  RTL Group signed the Charte de la Diversité in March 2017, thereby declaring its support for diversity and opposition to any form of discrimination in the company.

In 2020, Fremantle committed itself globally to more diversity across its business and content, by focusing on three key areas. ‘Unlock’ is a commitment to creating opportunities across the business, including the expansion of mentoring initiatives to broaden the diversity of the hiring pool and to promote change across the wider industry. ‘Unlearn’ is a new and ongoing cultural learning program which includes mandatory bias training. ‘Untitled’ is a communication platform designed to amplify and involve all voices, where Fremantle facilitated multiple open-forum sessions for their employees to discuss equality or voice concerns.

In US, Fremantle is working with The Hollywood Bridge Fund, a scheme which trains and connects below-the-line, underrepresented workers to job opportunities in Hollywood and helps broaden the diversity of the hiring pool.

In the UK, Fremantle created a mentoring initiative with the TV Collective called Breakthrough Leaders to develop a mentoring program designed to support 50 Black, Asian and minority ethnic future leaders.

In Germany, UFA made a commitment to becoming more diverse both in front of and behind the camera. By the end of 2024, UFA’s full-year programming portfolio should reflect the diversity found in society (Backstage reported).

At Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, the topic of diversity (on & off screen) is addressed by a working group newly established in January 2021 under the leadership of Marie-Fee Taube, Director Sustainability, with representatives from Marketing, Communications, HR, Social Media, Fiction, Non-Fiction, and News & Magazine.

In 2020, RTL Nederland launched an extensive multi-year plan to ensure Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) on a business level, in culture, branding and content. A Number of the initiatives in this plan have already been implemented. For instance, RTL Nederland rolled out a company wide D&I inclusivityscan, integrated D&I in the company’s management goals, launched an internal D&I editors team and dedicated environment on the intranet.
 

Climate Change

RTL Group is committed to the environmental goal of climate neutrality by 2030. In 2021, an RTL Group-wide Climate Task Force was launched with the aim of sharing knowledge on carbon footprint measurement and working together to significantly reduce CO2 emissions (Backstage reported). In order to minimise the greenhouse gas emissions generated at our sites, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland has been purchasing green electricity from RheinEnergie AG in Cologne at its Cologne-Deutz site since January 1, 2021. This will cut 5,393.60 tons of CO2 per year at the Cologne-Deutz site.


Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland reaches more than 37 million people every day with its content across all platforms. This attention is used to report, enlighten, classify and depict the diversity of opinion in our society in news and magazine programmes. Since 2019, Mediengruppe RTL, together with the Bertelsmann Content Alliance companies, has regularly addressed socially relevant topics to promote a sustainable, conscious future in the “Packen wir’s an” (Let’s Do It) theme weeks (Backstage reported), which will be continued this year. In spring 2021, one of the weekly topics on the agenda will be health.

Groupe M6 also held a Green Week in 2020 and 2021, devoting a large part of its programming to the topic of environmental protection. The overarching programming enabled it to emphasise the central importance of the topic. In order to sensitise even the youngest viewers to the topic of environmental protection, the channel Gulli broadcast a programmes suitable for children. (Backstage reported).

Fremantle is also dedicated to the topic of carbon emissions and has launched Albert, an updated carbon calculator for the film and television industry. This allows carbon emissions to be calculated and, above all, reduced in a controlled manner. (Backstage reported).

In December 2019, Mediengruppe RTL joined the cross-industry Green Shooting working group, an alliance of German producers, broadcasters, film funders and associations with the common goal of making productions as environmentally and climate-friendly as possible and minimising CO2 emissions. The first “green” productions are already being planned for 2021.



For the CR relevance analysis, 89 internal and external stakeholders shared their views on CR at RTL Group. This resulted in the following focus areas for RTL Group:

  • Content Responsibility
  • Creative/Journalistic Independence & Freedom of Expression
  • Intellectual Property & Copyright
  • Fair Working Conditions
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Climate Change
  • Learning (incl. digital media literacy)

 

*Note: Bertelsmann’s CR survey includes all of the Group’s media, service and education companies. RTL Group and Mediengruppe RTL focus primarily on relevant topics from the media sector.

 

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