Virgin Media to acquire UTV Ireland for €10 million
The deal, which would see Virgin Media take control of Ireland’s newest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, will need to be approved by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
Virgin Media yesterday announced its plans to acquire UTV Ireland, the country’s newest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, for a purchase price of €10 million. The agreement also includes a 10-year output deal for Ireland for ITV-produced programming.
The deal, which is yet to be approved by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, has been agreed with UTV Ireland’s parent company, ITV plc.
The news follows Virgin Media’s successful acquisition of TV3 Group, which includes the TV3 and 3e channels, last year. Tony Hanway, Virgin Media’s CEO, said that the acquisition of UTV Ireland demonstrates the company’s commitment to Irish TV programming and production.
The acquisition is big news for Irish television fans as it will create a commercial Irish broadcasting force to be reckoned with. UTV Ireland already shows popular soaps like Emmerdale and Coronation Street, and TV3 are producing tonnes of original content, including homegrown drama Red Rock.
There is already some speculation that this could put pressure on RTÉ and Sky to produce or acquire more exciting original content. This is another blow to those stations, following the launch of eir Sport last week.
It remains to be seen if the RTÉ and Sky can rival the new stations, particularly when it comes to bids for major sporting events and content from overseas, as well as on-demand services.