Belfast Telegraph

Former record company boss appointed chairman of UTV

By Margaret Canning

The new chairman of UTV Media plc has vowed to tackle its corporate governance issues as he takes over his new role.

Former Chrysalis plc boss Richard Huntingford succeeds veteran John B McGuckian, who left in March over an alleged conflict of interest.

UTV had claimed Mr McGuckian's independence was threatened by his role as non-executive director of TVC Holdings, a major UTV shareholder.

Former non-executive UTV directors Shane Reihill and Kevin Lagan also left in the wake of their ally.

UTV has a wide portfolio of media interests, including 21 radio stations, and is also holder of Northern Ireland's Channel 3 licence.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, 56-year-old Londoner Mr Huntingford said UTV was a strong company, adding: "There have been some corporate governance issues which have overshadowed the strong performance and one of my first priorities is to get the corporate governance right and strengthen the board with a couple of non-executive director appointments."

He said it was "too early" to say if the company would embark on any changes under his leadership.

UTV, whose share price rose to 136p following the announcement, said the new recruit had built Chrysalis into a "broadly-based media group" from its record label origins.

Belfast-based UTV, one of just three listed companies in Northern Ireland, has itself grown through acquisitions such as social media company Simply Zesty and The Wireless Group, owner of radio station talkSPORT.

Don Anderson, the author of 50 Years of UTV, said: "Looking at his CV, Mr Huntingford would appear to be exactly what UTV needs at the moment.

"The company is in the middle of quite a change and is well down the road to becoming a media company publishing in many areas - TV, radio, internet and telephony. This new chairman has experience in all those places."

Dublin-based media commentator Hugh Oram said: "His appointment could mean UTV becoming even more deeply involved in UK radio as well as in other UK media interests."

Mr Oram said tha Mr Huntingford's UK connections, could mean it disposes of its radio interests in the Republic of Ireland.