UTV cutbacks may hit Julian Simmons
UTV favourite Julian Simmons is facing an uncertain future as the company axes 12 more jobs.
New owners ITV have announced that “playout” of programmes is being shifted from Belfast to London.
And insiders say that could mean that popular continuity presenters like Julian and Gillian Porter will no longer be needed.
ITV has announced that a voluntary redundancy programme is being opened to “minimise the numbers of compulsory redundancies”.
One TV source said: “This move is obviously designed to bring UTV into line with the rest of ITV.
“But the other regions that make up ITV do not use ‘in vision’ continuity presenters, so where that leaves Julian and Gillian remains to be seen.
“If they go, there’s no doubt it will be another big blow for the UTV brand.”
The reorganisation comes six months after it was confirmed that UTV had been taken over by ITV.
The sale was completed in February following a £100 million deal being struck by UTV Media to sell its assets to ITV.
An ITV spokesperson said that the company had been reviewing the UTV business since the acquisition.
He said: “We intend to move playout for the UTV service in Northern Ireland to London where our partner Ericsson already provides this operation for more than a dozen ITV regional services and digital channels, ensuring a consistent and efficient transmission model for all of the ITV-owned Channel 3 licences.”
The spokesperson said that the move was due to take place in the autumn when the 12 jobs would go.
It is understood that the jobs at risk are not newsroom-based, but the shake-up could spell the end for Julian, who is best-known for his hilarious Coronation Street introductions.
The much-loved Belfast broadcaster has become a Northern Ireland icon with many videos and parody memes being made about him online.
He could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
Earlier this month it was announced that troubled Dublin-based broadcaster UTV Ireland was being sold for a second time, this time to Virgin Media for £8.5m.
The channel was launched in January 2015, but by November was warning of a £13 million loss in its first year.
cult hero: Julian Simmons is a hit with Corrie followers