Thursday 27 October 2016

Talks on the sale of UTV assets ongoing

Media tycoon John Malone is eyeing up UTV
Media tycoon John Malone is eyeing up UTV

UTV Media has confirmed it is in talks to sell its television assets, which include UTV Ireland.

The company told the Stock Exchange this morning that “discussions are ongoing and may or may not result in such a transaction being agreed”.

A further announcement will be made when appropriate, it said.

Speculation over the weekend linked ITV with a move for the television assets. TV3 owner Liberty Global –billionaire John Malone’s media business – has a 10pc stake in ITV.

Malone is one of the single biggest buyers of Irish assets.

As well as TV3 and UPC, he owns hotels and other major property assets.

UTV already broadcasts a vast volume of ITV programming, having nabbed the rights to show ITV content here from TV3.

However, the two are separate companies.

The multi-million pound deal is expected to be confirmed to the London Stock Exchange next week, according to the Belfast Telegraph, and will mark the first time the TV channel has passed out of local control since it was set up in 1958. ITV declined to comment.

Selling its television division would still leave UTV with a radio division made up of Radio Ireland – which owns stations including Q102 – and Radio Great Britain.

UTV Ireland, which was launched in January, has been slow to take off.

UTV recently announced that the station is expected to lose as much as €16m in its first year.

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