UTV 'in discussions' over sale of television assets
Northern Ireland broadcaster UTV has confirmed it is in talks about selling its television assets.
The company, which is due to report its financial results later this week, has the ITV franchise in the region and is reported to be in discussions to sell the channel to ITV.
Its share price rose by 10% this morning.
The company also owns a series of radio stations in Ireland and Great Britain, including TalkSport.
A UTV statement said: " The board of UTV Media plc notes the recent media speculation and confirms that it is in discussions regarding a potential sale of its television assets.
"Discussions are ongoing and may or may not result in such a transaction being agreed.
"A further announcement will be made when appropriate."
UTV was the first commercial television channel in Ireland when it launched as part of the ITV Network in 1959. It has been in local control since then.
UTV Media plc has said it is one of the most successful media companies in the UK and Ireland incorporating radio, television and new media.
Some of Britain's best-known TV personalities began their careers on the station, including Sky News anchor Eamonn Holmes, who started in 1979 by hosting a programme on farming.
Former UTV broadcaster-turned leader of the Ulster Unionists, Mike Nesbitt, said: "I am not aware of how advanced negotiations are with ITV, but I would encourage anyone with the necessary access to finance to look carefully at the possibility of a local buy-out to retain UTV's unique brand.
"At its best, UTV does things others cannot do. Northern Ireland viewers need a strong, local independent television station, not least to offer competition to BBC Northern Ireland."