Cable broadband and TV player Virgin Media is to acquire TV channel UTV Ireland for €10m, just over a year after it acquired TV3 for €87m.
UTV Ireland is Ireland’s youngest free-to-air broadcaster.
Last year, TV3 was acquired by Virgin for €87m from Doughty Hanson.
Virgin, which is owned by Liberty Global, made arrangements to acquire UTV from its parent company ITV.
The agreement also includes a comprehensive 10-year output deal for Ireland for ITV-produced programming.
‘This is a very positive development for Irish broadcasting and ensures Virgin Media’s continued investment in top-quality programming and local production’
– TONY HANWAY, VIRGIN MEDIA
Virgin said the purchase price for UTV Ireland is expected to be funded through existing liquidity.
The deal is expected to secure the station’s long-term future.
UTV is a free-to-air channel that is available on Virgin, Eir Vision, Vodafone, Sky and Saorview and has a following due to its rights to popular UK soaps Emmerdale and Coronation Street.
“This investment demonstrates our commitment to providing great entertainment for Irish viewers and adds Ireland’s newest TV channel to our existing portfolio, which includes TV3 and 3e,” said Tony Hanway, chief executive of Virgin Media in Ireland.
“This is a very positive development for Irish broadcasting and ensures Virgin Media’s continued investment in top-quality programming and local production.”
The future of broadcasting in Ireland
This acquisition will be subject to competition and regulatory approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, as well as a separate media plurality test by the Irish Government.
It is expected the transaction will be cleared in the coming months.
TV3 managing director Pat Kiely said the investment will underpin the future of the independent television sector in Ireland.
“Virgin Media’s investment in TV3 has already supported the expansion of our studio facilities and increased production of originated content.
“The proposed acquisition of UTV Ireland will ensure further investment in the independent Irish television sector as we continue to compete head on against significant local and international competition,” Kiely said.