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UTV maintains high quality and creativity

I read with great surprise your article and editorial about the television broadcasters in Northern Ireland.

Few companies know better than the Belfast Telegraph what a challenging year it has been for media that rely on advertising. Yet on every measurement UTV has outperformed the regional television industry as a whole. When your editorial suggests UTV “needs to raise its game significantly”, I have to question exactly what more the Belfast Telegraph expects from UTV.

We already produce the most watched regional news in the whole of the UK and last year we introduced UTV Live Tonight — the only half hour night time regional news programme on any channel. This programme now regularly rates highest in that timeslot.

Ofcom's own research states UTV has the highest audience appreciation, the most respected presenters and is the best for breaking news of any BBC or ITV company in the UK.

This week’s Northern Ireland Water investigation shows the strength of UTV's output and how we are not afraid to invest time and resources in good quality, high end journalism.

Away from news UTV produces and commissions the two most popular programmes on regional television — Lesser Spotted Ulster and Ultimate Ulster.

We invest close to £10m in programmes on and for Northern Ireland and close to this figure again on the programming we get from ITV network. This is a significant investment in the Northern Ireland creative industries. UTV continues to overproduce in programming requirements and as stated in Ofcom’s annual report — ‘UTV easily exceeded the 25% independent quota well above the levels delivered by other ITV licensees’.

Recently we’ve had new success with Glorious Gardens, George Best – from Football Boots to Dancing Shoes and The Seven Thirty Show and new series are already underway for this autumn.

No one will doubt we need more network production from our region — UTV has spoken to the BBC Trust, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, DCAL and ITV network to encourage output from here and we continue to work on increasing the creative base in Northern Ireland.



MICHAEL WILSON

Managing director, UTV

Belfast Telegraph

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