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UTV confirms discussions over television sell-off: Northern Ireland broadcaster due to sell to ITV


Julian Simmons

Julian Simmons

Julian Simmons

Northern Ireland broadcaster UTV is in talks to sell off its television division, it has been confirmed.

The station confirmed it was in "discussions regarding a potential sale of its television assets".

It comes after the Belfast Telegraph revealed the broadcaster was in the process of selling off its television assets to ITV.

Its share price rose by 10% this morning.

In a statement, 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."

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UTV shows ITV programming as an owner of the Channel 3 franchise in Northern Ireland but the two are completely separate businesses.

Some of Northern Ireland's best-loved personalities have made their name on UTV, including Gloria Hunniford, Eamonn Holmes, Frank Mitchell, Anne Hailes, Julian Simmons and Pamela Ballantine.

Divesting itself of its TV division - makers of household name shows like UTV Live and Lesser Spotted Ulster - still leaves UTV with a hefty radio business made up of two divisions, Radio Ireland, com

For revenue, Radio GB is its healthiest division, with sales of £13.3m in the three months to the end of March this year, compared to Radio Ireland revenue of £4.7m and TV revenue of £11.8m.

In January, the company launched a new TV station, UTV Ireland though it's unclear if this would be included in a deal with ITV.

UTV Media plc said in June that it expected UTV Ireland would suffer £11.5m in losses this year.

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.