Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Losing Coronation Street and Emmerdale rights won't burst our bubble, says TV3

Coronation Street actors Beverley Callard, Kym Lomas and Simon Gregson will be among the stars on offer from UTV Ireland

Irish TV channel TV3 played down the impact on its fortunes of losing out on the rights to Coronation Street and Emmerdale.

The broadcaster, often viewed as a lively newcomer compared to the relatively staid incumbents RTE1 and RTE2, said viewers would be unaffected until 2015, when UTV Ireland will begin broadcasting.

TV3, which has been operating in the Republic since the late 1990s, said it was "not prepared" to pay the price required by ITV Studios for the two soap operas and their stable mates.

It's understood ITV Studios was seeking millions of pounds to hand over exclusive rights to the soaps, and tabloid talk show Jeremy Kyle, also made by ITV Studios. TV3 said ITV programming accounted for just six-and-a-half hours per week of its peak time broadcasting.

And they will still retain the rights to popular shows like the X-Factor, Downton Abbey and the UEFA Champions League, which are not made by ITV Studios even though they are broadcast on ITV.

A spokeswoman said: "Already, with the introduction of Late Lunch Live, we've started to introduce home-produced daytime programming to replace acquisitions – Jeremy Kyle is now the only acquisition in daytime and will continue to run late into 2015."

TV3 also claimed the popularity of Corrie and Emmerdale had sagged in recent years, with TV3 viewers of the soaps down 20%.

The spokeswoman said: "Coronation Street and Emmerdale account for around 15% of TV3's overall viewing.

"Since 2006 we have increased our percentage of home produced programming from under 25% to over 35%."

It vowed to continue a strategy of making its own programmes –including a new soap opera, which is in development – moving away from an acquisition model to a home-produced model, "much more suited to our Irish audience".

The spokeswoman said: "The money that we will save by not acquiring Coronation Street and Emmerdale better positions us to come away from mirroring programmes on ITV and instead invest in creative new home produced programmes.

"It's a great opportunity for TV3."