ITV confirms £100m takeover of UTV Media
Northern Irish-based group will be left with TalkSport and a number of local radio stations as ITV takes control of almost the whole of channel 3

ITV has confirmed the £100m purchase of TalkSport owner UTV Media’s television channels in Northern Ireland and the Republic, as predicted by MediaGuardian.

The deal will give ITV control of almost the whole of the channel 3, with publicly-listed STV in Scotland its only remaining independent regional broadcaster.

UTV Media owns the ITV franchise in Northern Ireland and the newly-established UTV Ireland, which is on track to make an £11.5m loss in its first year.

Following the sale of its TV assets, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, UTV Media will be left with a radio operation including TalkSport and a number of local stations in the UK and Ireland.

It is also one of the backers of Sound Digital, which was awarded the licence to launch the second wave of national digital commercial radio stations by media regulator Ofcom earlier this year, including a TalkSport sister station and the return to the UK airwaves of Virgin Radio.

The British radio assets, and TalkSport in particular, are likely to become potential takeover targets once UTV Media divests of its TV operations.

The group commenced a strategic review of its UK radio operations and sold Liverpool-based Juice FM to Capital and Classic FM owner Global Radio for £10m.

ITV chief executive Adam Crozier said: “We have a long-standing relationship with UTV, which has been the leading commercial broadcaster in Northern Ireland for many years thanks to its strong regional identity and blend of excellent local programming and strong network shows.

“UTV Television’s strategic objectives are closely aligned with our own and we are very pleased that they are joining the ITV family. We are looking forward to working with the team going forward.”

John McCann, group chief executive of UTV Media, said: “The market leading success of our television business has been built over many years on the well-established formula of high quality local programming packaged around an attractive network schedule. Becoming part of the ITV family is by far the best way to take UTV’s Television business forward with an ongoing focus to provide brilliant television to viewers right across Ireland.”