UTV and ITV strike deal for sale of UTV Northern Ireland and UTV Ireland. Leaving only STV North and STV Central as independent ITV companies on the network.
The parent company of ITV Studios and ITV Broadcasting – ITV plc – has confirmed that it has agreed to acquire 100% of UTV Limited, which owns the television assets of UTV Media plc, for a total cash consideration of £100 million.
“We have a long-standing relationship with UTV, which has been the leading commercial broadcaster in Northern Ireland for many years thanks to its strong regional identity and blend of excellent local programming and strong network shows,” – ITV Chief Executive Adam Crozier.
The takeover is however still subject to regulatory and UTV Media plc shareholder approval, however this appears to be a formality. The transaction will be financed by ITV plc through existing cash and debt facilities.
The deal further strengthens ITV’s free to air business and enables the broadcast side of the company to run a more efficient network, ITV state. On completion of the acquisition ITV will own 13 of the 15 regional licences for the Channel 3 network and the combined business will benefit from ITV’s continued investment in content, its advertising sales team and broadcast infrastructure they note, however how much regional content remains is yet to be seen. Since taking over all the English regions ITV has cut back local programming down to news and current affairs only.
“UTV Television’s strategic objectives are closely aligned with our own and we are very pleased that they are joining the ITV family. We are looking forward to working with the team going forward.” – ITV Chief Executive Adam Crozier.
UTV is the market leading commercial broadcaster and the most watched channel in Northern Ireland, broadcasting ITV content alongside high quality local programming. UTV Limited also owns 100% of UTV Ireland, which launched a new dedicated channel for the Republic of Ireland on the 1st of January 2015. UTV Ireland is already the second most watched channel in peak in Ireland and ITV intends to strengthen the channel further with high-quality ITV programming at its core.
“The market leading success of our television business has been built over many years on the well-established formula of high quality local programming packaged around an attractive network schedule. Becoming part of the ITV Family is by far the best way to take UTV’s Television business forward with an ongoing focus to provide brilliant television to viewers right across Ireland.” – John McCann, Group Chief Executive of UTV Media
The sale of UTV leaves only STV stations in Scotland independent of ITV plc. UTV launched as Ulster Television on the 31st of October 1959. The last independent station on the network to be purchased by ITV plc was CTV for the Channel Islands in 2011. It sold for around £10 million. ITV Channel Television, along with ITV Wales, (formerly HTV), continues to operate slightly more local television hours than the English ITV output.