Belfast Telegraph

U105 presenters to join former UTV colleagues in new Harbour studios

By Margaret Canning

Belfast radio station U105 will join its former sister broadcaster UTV at swish new waterside premises in the city next year, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Along with UTV, U105 will be based at nine-storey building City Quays 2, built by Belfast Harbour.

The radio station, home to presenters such as Frank Mitchell, Johnny Hero and Carolyn Stewart, leaves Havelock House next year.

The radio and TV broadcasters, now part of unrelated companies which had conducted separate searches for new premises, will be on different floors.

UTV has already announced it will occupy the eighth floor - and the proximity of the radio studios will be good news to presenters such as Frank Mitchell, who hosts a morning talk show on U105 as well as presenting UTV weather bulletins.

U105, which has been available on FM in greater Belfast since its first broadcast in 2005, yesterday launched on digital radio.

And a spokeswoman for UTV confirmed that TV journalists would continue to provide news services to the radio station until early next year.

"UTV is contracted to provide a news service to U105 until early 2018 at which point UTV and U105 will review the arrangement," she said.

U105 has been part of UK media giant News UK since late last year after it was sold on, along with the six stations in the Republic also making up Wireless Group.

Both the TV channel and the radio stations had been part of UTV Media plc before the group was broken up with the sale of TV broadcaster UTV to ITV in February 2016.

A News UK spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on the move. And Belfast Harbour also refused to confirm the move.

"Interest in City Quays 2 has been high but Belfast Harbour does not comment on commercial matters," it said.

Meanwhile, it's understood U105 is to be spared from cuts affecting sister radio stations in the Republic, which include FM104 and Cork broadcasters 96FM and C103.

A Wireless Ireland spokeswoman said: "Market conditions across the radio industry are challenging so we have proposed some changes across our six Irish stations to help ensure a sustainable future and enable us to continue to invest in great content. We are unable to give details or comment any further at this time."

News UK has moved U105 into a separate UK division which also includes talkSPORT, talkRADIO and Virgin Radio.

The News UK spokeswoman said: "They will report into the UK given they share the same currency, structure and audience measurement figures."

UTV's move to City Quays 2 was announced earlier this year but U105's move to the same location has yet to be confirmed.

Announcing its move in May, UTV head of news and programming Terry Brennan said: "We aim to be operational at the new site by the middle of next year, when the detailed technical work will be complete to fit out the new HD studios, edit suites, corporate offices and news, administration, finance and sales areas for our staff."

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