Virgin Media is to acquire UTV Ireland from ITV for €10m. The agreement with ITV also includes a comprehensive 10 year output deal for Ireland for ITV produced programming, including popular soaps like Coronation Street.
The purchase price is expected to be funded through existing resources.
The proposed transaction follows the successful acquisition of TV3 Group last year. On completion of the acquisition, UTV Ireland will become part of Virgin Media which will be an essential step to securing the channel’s long term future.
UTV Ireland is a general entertainment free-to-air channel which is available on Virgin Media, eir Vision, Vodafone, Sky and Saorview. The acquisition also means that Virgin will now own three TV stations in Ireland – TV3, UTV Ireland and 3e as well as a sizeable online presence. It will also strengthen the group’s advertising offering to clients, giving it a critical mass in terms of audience size.
According to Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media, “We are delighted to welcome UTV Ireland to the Virgin Media family. This investment demonstrates our commitment to provide great entertainment for Irish viewers and adds Ireland’s newest TV channel to our existing portfolio which includes TV3 and 3e. This is a very positive development for Irish broadcasting and ensures Virgin Media’s continued investment in top quality programming and local production.”
Pat Kiely, MD of TV3, added that “today’s announcement represents an exciting new chapter for the Irish television industry. Virgin Media’s investment in TV3 has already supported the expansion of our studio facilities and increased production of originated content. The proposed acquisition of UTV Ireland will ensure further investment in the independent Irish television sector as we continue to compete head on against significant local and international competition.”
This acquisition will be subject to competition and regulatory approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland as well as a separate media plurality test by the Irish Government. It is expected the transaction will be cleared in the coming months.