Northern Ireland’s UTV Media has been in discussions since August regarding a potential sale of its television assets to ITV. This morning, a deal between the two was confirmed with ITV paying £100M ($154.4M) to acquire 100% of UTV Ltd which owns the TV assets. UTV, which first broadcast as Ulster Television in 1959, is one of the two remaining independent regional broadcasters in the ITV Network, airing ITV programming and producing such local shows as UTV Live and Lesser Spotted Ulster. Going forward, Scotland’s STV will be the only remaining independent ITV regional broadcaster.
This latest purchase for the acquisitive ITV further strengthens its free-to-air business. The Guardian reports that the group was able to drive a hard deal following the poor launch of UTV Ireland in Dublin last January, which is on track for a £11.5M ($17.8M) loss in its first year.
UTV is the market leading commercial broadcaster and the most watched channel in Northern Ireland. The TV assets of UTV Media reported total revenue of £34.7M and operating profit of £6.6M in 2014.
The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, excludes UTV Media’s radio businesses UTV Radio GB and UTV Radio Ireland, and its digital media businesses, Simply Zesty and Tibus Digital.