Virgin Media set to buy UTV Ireland

Virgin Media set to buy UTV Ireland

ITV plc today announces that it has agreed to sell UTV Ireland to Virgin Media, owner of TV3, subject to regulatory approval.

The acquisition will not be completed until it is cleared by the regulators, which is expected to take some months.

Until then, ITV remains the owner of UTV Ireland and said that it is committed to maintaining the service during that time.

As part of the deal, Virgin Media will also take over a 10-year programme supply agreement with ITV Global Entertainment.

"Launching UTV Ireland last year represented a significant achievement by the teams in Dublin and Belfast in challenging circumstances," said Christy Swords, director, Broadcast Finance & Operations for ITV.

"ITV took over the business a few months ago and we've concluded that bringing TV3 and UTV Ireland together under common ownership offers the best prospect of delivering a strong and sustainable Irish commercial broadcaster, underpinned by a long-term programming agreement with ITV.

"We recognise that this has been an uncertain period for the staff of UTV and UTV Ireland and we have been determined to reach a speedy resolution.

"We believe that the decision we have made represents an important step forward for the future of the channel."

UTV Ireland was launched in January 2015, prior to ITV’s acquisition of UTV's television assets earlier this year.

Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media, said: “We are delighted to welcome UTV Ireland to the Virgin Media family.

“This investment demonstrates our commitment to provide great entertainment for Irish viewers and adds Ireland's newest TV channel to our existing portfolio which includes TV3 and 3e.

“This is a very positive development for Irish broadcasting and ensures Virgin Media's continued investment in top quality programming and local production."

Pat Kiely, MD of TV3, said: “Today’s announcement represents an exciting new chapter for the Irish television industry.

“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."

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