UTV to launch new Irish TV channel – great news for Sport?

Updated: November 6, 2013

UTV is to launch a new Irish Channel News which is really likely to concern RTE & TV3 but be welcomed by sporting organisations throughout the land.

UTV Ireland, which is expected to go on air early in 2015, will be based in Dublin with additional newsgathering and reporting presence in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick.

It is planned the new channel will see the creation of more than 100 new jobs.

An application for a service licence will be submitted to broadcasting regulators on Wednesday morning.

This announcement follows the signing of an agreement with ITV Studios Global Entertainment, which will give UTV the exclusive broadcasting rights for ITV Studios programmes for the Republic of Ireland audience, including popular soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale from early 2015, once appropriate statutory broadcasting licences are in place.

UTV is also planning a nightly one hour news and current affairs programme for Ireland.

John McCann, Group Chief Executive, UTV Media plc said UTV Ireland will be a new dedicated channel for viewers in the Republic of Ireland.

Today’s announcement represents a strong vote of confidence in Irish broadcasting and our investment in the Irish economy.

Mr McCann said: “The audience in Ireland has known the UTV brand for more than 50 years through our station for Northern Ireland.

“UTV Media already has a very strong presence in the Republic of Ireland employing more than 300 people in our various businesses including our market leading Irish radio stations. We look forward to building on that success with the launch of a new Irish TV channel.”

Mr McCann said it is expected the new channel will move into profit from 2016.

UTV was the first commercial TV channel in Ireland when it launched as part of the ITV Network in 1959.

Michael Wilson, Managing Director, UTV Television said: “We intend to introduce UTV Ireland in early 2015 utilising the existing UTV winning formula of combining high quality news, current affairs, entertainment and drama.

“We plan to make this new channel available on as many platforms as possible, subject to contract approval, with a catch up service also available online.”

UTV Media plc is one of the most successful media companies in the UK and Ireland incorporating Radio, Television and New Media.

So potentially good news then for Irish sports organisations and fans of sports such as Boxing, Cricket, and other sports which rarely are seen on RTE. Potential too for expanded GAA coverage.

IF I were new IABA Chief Executive, Fergal Carruth I’d be first in the queue to sound out UTV about regular boxing tournament coverage, North and South, since what has long been Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport has been all but ignored by RTE,  saved for major events where coverage has been “bought in” from foreign broadcasters sometimes via “Live Streaming”, occasionally ‘Deferred Coverage”  but rarely Live TV and with a commentator based in the Dublin studio.

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