Belfast Telegraph

UTV extend licence to show ITV programmes until 2025

By Margaret Canning

UTV has signed up for another decade as holder of the Channel 3 licence in Northern Ireland, after agreeing financial terms set by Ofcom.

The broadcaster – part of UTV Media plc – will continue showing ITV programmes under the deal and will pay £10,000 per year to the regulator for the licence, which runs until 2025.

UTV's licence is one of 15 regional Channel 3 certificates awarded by Ofcom to media companies around the UK.

Group chief executive John McCann said the agreement ensured "continued investment in the local economy". He added: "As a successful regional broadcaster, we are totally committed to providing our audience with high quality public service programming in the future as we have for more than 50 years."

UTV managing director Michael Wilson said: "We look forward to providing our audience with the same high standards of news, current affairs and programming that reflects the people and issues of Northern Ireland, in the future."

The start of the new deal will coincide with the first broadcast by the plc's second TV channel, UTV Ireland. The company last year applied for a renewal of the licence, but was refused a request to reduce the amount of non-news TV programmes it makes.

The Republic's broadcasting regulator, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, last week announced it would be starting negotiations with UTV Ireland over a television content provision contract.

In November last year, UTV Ireland signed an agreement with ITV Studios Global Entertainment, giving the channel broadcasting rights for ITV Studios productions such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale.

The new channel will be based in Dublin, with additional newsgathering and reporting presence in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick.

In July last year, Ofcom told UTV it could not have the option of reducing the amount of non-news TV programmes it makes.

The current licence requires it to produce an average of two hours per week across the year of locally-made, non-news – 30 minutes more than its counterparts in Scotland and Wales.

Meanwhile, UTV has disposed of its 50% share in property website PropertyPal.

It's understood UTV has sold its share back to the founder of the company, Errol Maxwell. No-one at PropertyPal was available for comment.

However, a comment by UTV on its website said: "In January 2014, UTV sold its 50% stake in the property portal back to Propertypal.com as our shareholding in this business is no longer core to UTV's digital strategy moving forward."

UTV in Belfast has broadcast Channel 3 programming in Northern Ireland since it was established as Ulster Television in 1959. Licences for Channel 3 broadcasting are awarded by the communications watchdog Ofcom. Yesterday Ofcom revealed the financial terms for the grant of a further 10-year licence to UTV and other regional stations around the UK.

Belfast Telegraph

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