Virgin Media set to buy UTV Ireland

The TV3 owner is taking the channel off ITV's hands

Virgin Media set to buy UTV Ireland

UTV Ireland, Facebook

ITV has announced today that it has agreed to sell UTV Ireland to Virgin Media.

The acquisition will not be completed until it is cleared by the regulators, which is expected to take some months.

Virgin Media already owns UTV Ireland rival station TV3.

As part of the deal, Virgin Media will also take over a 10-year programme supply agreement with ITV Global Entertainment.

UTV Ireland was launched in January 2015, prior to ITV’s acquisition of UTV's television assets earlier this year.

UTV Ireland's difficulties since it launched on New Year's Day 2015 have been well documented. It issued a series of profit warnings throughout 2015 as it struggled to find a foothold in Ireland's competitive TV market.

Christy Swords, Director, Broadcast Finance & Operations for ITV, said:

"Launching UTV Ireland last year represented a significant achievement by the teams in Dublin and Belfast in challenging circumstances.

"ITV took over the business a few months ago and we've concluded that bringing TV3 and UTV Ireland together under common ownership offers the best prospect of delivering a strong and sustainable Irish commercial broadcaster, underpinned by a long-term programming agreement with ITV.

"We recognise that this has been an uncertain period for the staff of UTV and UTV Ireland and we have been determined to reach a speedy resolution.

"We believe that the decision we have made represents an important step forward for the future of the channel.”