After what has proved a less-than ideal start for Ireland’s newest free-to-air channel, UTV Ireland, along with UTV in Northern Ireland, is expected to be sold to ITV in a deal worth a reported €136m (£100m).
Having launched at the very beginning of this year, UTV Ireland has arguably failed to live up to its aspirations within the country, despite it attracting big names to join it, including Pat Kenny and Chris Donoghue, with the channel reporting a loss of €10.5m in the first half of 2015.
And now, according to The Irish Times, UTV’s entire TV service is expected to be sold to ITV, where it will become a part of the UK’s largest commercial public service broadcaster.
Publishing the announcement, UTV said that discussions had begun back in August this year and that, once completed, the name ‘UTV’ will disappear in its entirety and be replaced with a new corporate name.
In its statement, the chairperson of UTV, Richard Huntingford, said that ITV will have the resources to see the channel progress.
‘ITV will be a good owner of the business’
“The last few years have seen increasing consolidation in the global television sector, creating media companies that span content, broadcast and platform ownership,” Huntingford said.
“Having successfully extended the reach of our television business with the launch of UTV Ireland, I believe that shareholder value can be maximised through our television interests becoming part of ITV’s global broadcast and content business.
“I believe that the price reflects the inherent value within the UTV Television business. ITV will be a good owner of the business and, with its scale and reach, will be able to accelerate the future growth of the business.
“I want to thank all the UTV Television staff for their outstanding service to UTV over many years, and I wish them every success in the future.”
As for its other media businesses, UTV confirmed that it will set aside £10m to cover warranty and tax indemnity if it disposes of its ownership of the talkSPORT radio station in the UK, but has stated that it has no plans on selling either of its other two businesses, Simply Zesty and Tibus.
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