UTV, the ITV broadcaster in Northern Ireland, has confirmed it is to sell-off its Merseyside radio station Juice FM to Global Radio. The news follows recent speculation the company was planning to sell-off its regional television services to the owners of the ITV companies in England and Wales.
“UTV today announces that clearance has been received from the UK Competition and Markets Authority. Pursuant to the terms of the sale and purchase agreement with Global Radio, it is expected that completion will take place on Thursday 8th October 2015. A further announcement will follow to confirm that completion has taken place.” – UTV Media
Juice FM, based in Liverpool, began broadcasting as Crash FM in 1998 offering an alternative rock and dance station backed by music stars such as Bob Geldof, Primal Scream, Urban Splash and Boy George. The station was lead by presenter Janice Long. The broadcaster was re-branded in 2000 as Juice FM, following a takeover by Forever Broadcasting which also saw the introduction of pop music to the playlist. The station was bought by UTV a decade ago.
New owners Global Radio operate a mix of broadcasters including chart stations Capital Radio, easy listening network Smooth Radio, oldies station Gold and contemporary pop broadcaster Heart.
In August this year UTV confirmed that the company was “in discussions” over the future of their television service. It was suggested the company would be selling off UTV Northern Ireland and UTV Ireland to ITVplc. Such a sell-off would bring about the end of local ownership of UTV – launched in 1959 as Ulster Television – and would also see a dramatic cut in local programming.
In January the television division of parent company UTV Media was expanded with the launch in Ireland of a sister station, UTV at the time stated the arrival of UTV Ireland would ‘strengthen’ the television broadcast and production arm of UTV Media. However it appears to have had the opposite effect. UTV Media after the sale of Juice FM will continue to own fifteen regional radio stations such as Wire FM, Signal 107 and Tower FM as well as national broadcaster TalkSport.