ITV to acquire Northern Ireland's channel, UTV, say reports | Media | The Guardian
Network expected to announce multi-million deal later this week

Irish newspapers have reported that ITV is to acquire UTV, the Northern Ireland television channel, in a multi-million pound deal.

The move is expected to be confirmed to the London stock exchange this week, said the Belfast Telegraph, though neither ITV nor UTV Media would confirm the report.

Both the Irish Independent and the Sunday Timesís Irish edition cite the Belfast Telegraph as the source of their similar stories on the matter.

UTV
, which shows ITV programming, was launched in Belfast in 1959 and has been in local control ever since. So the sale to the English-based ITV network - if it goes ahead - will be regarded as a landmark moment in Northern Irelandís media history.

A number of Britainís best-known TV personalities began their careers on UTV, notably the Sky News anchor Eamonn Holmes who started in 1979 by hosting a programme on farming.

According to the reports, UTV Media will retain its profitable radio portfolio, built around TalkSport. But there is uncertainty about whether the channel it launched in January this year in the Republic, UTV Ireland, will be included in the deal.

UTV Ireland has found it difficult to attract either an audience or advertising. Last month, Alex DeGroote, media analyst at UK-based broker Peel Hunt, predicted that it was unlikely to survive past its first year.

UTV Media, led by chief executive John McCann, is due to report its half-year results on Friday, 27 August.

Sources:
Belfast Telegraph/Irish Independent/Sunday Times