RTL’s FremantleMedia Appoints Desai as Chief Operating Officer

FremantleMedia, the content-production arm of RTL Group SA behind television hits such as “American Idol” and “The X Factor,” appointed Sangeeta Desai as chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

Desai takes the newly created joint role immediately and will be based in London, reporting to Chief Executive Officer Cecile Frot-Coutaz, the company said in a statement today.

Desai previously served as chief operating officer at HIT Entertainment Ltd., the London-based owner of children’s brands including Thomas the Tank Engine and Barney that was acquired by Mattel Inc. in October 2011 for $680 million.

RTL, Europe’s largest television broadcaster, is working to reduce its dependence on TV advertising sales by focusing on online programming and content production. The company is counting on more hit shows such as “American Idol” to encourage pay-television operators and consumers to pay more for its products. RTL said in August that it planned to step up investment in FremantleMedia, whose revenue rose 16 percent to 720 million euros ($963 million) in the first half of 2012.

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