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ITV in talks to buy UTV’s TV business

By | Published on Tuesday 25 August 2015


ITV plc is seemingly in talks to buy the TV assets of UTV Media, which controls the channel three franchise in Northern Ireland.

Following speculation that such talks were underway, the latter company said in a statement: “The board of UTV Media notes the recent media speculation and confirms that it is in discussions regarding a potential sale of its television assets. Discussions are ongoing and may or may not result in such a transaction being agreed. A further announcement will be made when appropriate”.

Back in the olden days, different companies ran the traditionally lucrative channel three TV franchises in each region of the UK, but most of those companies subsequently merged so that ITV plc now operates that channel – as ITV – in all of England and Wales. However, different companies still own the channel three franchises in Scotland and Northern Ireland, STV and UTV respectively.

UTV also has interests in radio in both England and the island of Ireland, which are not part of the ITV talks. UTV was already known to be interested in selling off its local radio stations in England, and did sell Juice in Liverpool to Global, though the company still seems committed to its UK-wide radio operations. That includes TalkSport and the new second national digital radio network in which it is a partner, and via which it intends to relaunch Virgin Radio.

It remains to be seen if the ITV deal goes ahead, but if it does, it will fuel speculation that ITV plc is also interested in STV, finally giving one company control of channel three across the entirety of the United Kingdom.