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UTV sells TV business to ITV

By | Published on Monday 19 October 2015


ITV plc has bought the television business of UTV Media, which operates the third channel – occupied by ITV1 in England and Wales – in Northern Ireland.

The third channel position on the UK TV network was originally run by a different company in each region but, as a result of a series of mergers and acquisitions, for over a decade now one firm – ITV plc – has controlled all the licenses in England and Wales. However, the channel is operated by separate companies STV in Scotland and UTV in Northern Ireland.

As a result of the £100 million deal announced this morning – which is still subject to regulator approval – ITV plc will also control channel three in Northern Ireland, though it says it will retain the UTV name on-air, for the time being at least. In England and Wales most of the old regional ITV company names have been phased out, except sometimes in regional news output.

The deal also includes UTV Ireland, a channel based in the Republic Of Ireland that launched at the start of the year, but which has so far struggling to gain momentum. Though the acquisition does not include UTV’s radio assets in either the UK or Ireland. Those will continue to operate as a standalone company, though that firm will rebrand having sold off its TV assets.

UTV’s radio division has also been looking into selling off some of its assets in the UK – and did sell its Liverpool FM franchise – though it is also set to launch a number of new UK-wide stations next year, including an all-new Virgin Radio, as part of the second national digital radio network.