Virgin Media, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liberty Global, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with ITV plc to acquire UTV Ireland, the nation’s newest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, for a purchase price of €10 million.
The agreement also includes a comprehensive 10 year output deal for Ireland for ITV produced programming.
The purchase price is expected to be funded through existing liquidity.
The proposed transaction follows the successful acquisition of TV3 Group last year and is further testament to the confidence Virgin Media has in the Irish TV programming and production sectors.
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.
It offers compelling content such as Emmerdale and Coronation Street as well as live streaming and catch-up services and its UTV Player is available across a variety of devices.
David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media, said: “The acquisition of UTV Ireland gives us leadership in commercial broadcasting in Ireland and extends our platform to showcase the best Irish, UK and international programming. It also gives us exciting opportunities to buy and make exclusive programmes for our Virgin Media customers in both the Republic of Ireland and the UK. Our vision for television is about bringing people closer to the programmes they love how, where and when they want to view it – be that linear, on-demand or online.”
Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media Ireland, said: “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, said: “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.
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