TV3 raises the stakes in battle of airwaves

TV3 is aiming to cement its position as the country’s second favourite TV channel and close the gap on RTÉ 1 with a new autumn schedule which sees a record number of home-produced programmes by the station.

Over 150 hours of domestic, peak-time shows encompassing reality TV, documentaries and light entertainment shows will be aired over the coming months.

TV3 executives boasted yesterday that over 40% of its output is now home-produced compared with just 20% three years ago.

Announcing details of the station’s new autumn schedule, TV3’s director of programming Ben Frow promised it was the most ambitious ever range of programmes, “with more highlights than Audrey Roberts’ hairdressing salon”.

Among the main attractions will be a third series of The Apprentice with Bill Cullen, while Anton Savage, who has carved out a reputation as an accomplished stand-in for a variety of radio presenters, will take over from Brendan O’Connor as the host of The Apprentice: You’re Fired.

For aficionados of the show, there will be an extra treat with a fly-on-the-wall series which follows the candidates behind the scenes in The Apprentice: At Home.

Bill Cullen yesterday promised viewers that the new series, which has already started filming, is “really entertaining with tremendous struggles in the boardroom”.

Today FM presenter Ray Foley will also star in an Irish version of the dating programme, Take Me Out, which sees 30 girls hoping to find their perfect man, while there will also be an Irish series of the popular Channel 4 programme, Come Dine With Me.

A fly-on-the-wall series, Boozed Up Irish Abroad, is likely to prove controversial as it follows the antics of young Irish holidaymakers letting their hair down, among other things, in Spain and Crete.

Teenage Lives will document the experiences of Irish teenagers coping with adolescence.

True crime documentaries also feature largely in the schedule with Cocaine Wars chronicling the background of Ireland’s drug feuds, while 24 Hours to Murder will analyse the build-up to some of the country’s most horrific killings.

Other regular favourites including Xposé, The X-Factor, Celebrity Salon and I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here are also returning to the screens this autumn.

Among film premieres for Irish TV will be Gran Torino, The Hangover, Wanted, The Dark Knight and The Incredible Hulk.

TV3 also has the TV rights to the 2011 UEFA Europa League final to be played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin next year.

TV3 chief executive David McRedmond said the company was having a good year, with revenue up 7% and audiences up 5% so far.

Mr McRedmond revealed that TV3’s owners, private equity firm, Doughty Hanson, had invested €15m in the station in June to help consolidate recent growth and increase home-produced programming to over 50% by 2012. He also announced that TV3 will be building a new studio complex which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011 to cater for the broadcaster’s growing output.

An on-air launch of the TV autumn schedule will be broadcast live from Galway this morning on Ireland AM.

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