UTV Ireland gets regulatory green light for 2015 launch
The contract was signed by Bob Collins, Chairperson and Michael O’Keeffe, Chief Executive, on behalf of the BAI and by John McCann, Group Chief Executive, UTV Media Plc and Michael Wilson, Managing Director, UTV Television, on behalf of UTV Ireland Limited, at the Authority’s offices in Dublin.
In November 2013, UTV Ireland announced that it was applying for a licence for a new Irish station on the back of news that it would take over screening programmes from ITV Studios, including Coronation Street and Emmerdale from TV3 in 2015.
UTV Ireland will be based in Dublin and will be a general entertainment channel. Its schedule will initially include a nightly news and current affairs programme (Monday to Thursday), together with a range of documentaries, dramas and films.
Speaking about the contract signing, BAI Chairperson, Bob Collins said, "Today’s contract signing with UTV Ireland Limited is to be welcomed, particularly for the additional choice and increased diversity of content that it will offer to Irish viewers. The company is well known to the BAI as a contractor for several radio services operating in the State. The Authority wishes the company every success with its television venture in this jurisdiction".
Incumbent commercial broadcaster TV3 had argued that UTV Ireland should be licenced as a Irish opt-out service by Ofcom in London, such as numerous UK cable and satellite channels that offer Irish versions for advertising purposes. TV3 pointed out that UTV Ireland will be exempt from certain regulatory obligations that it has to abide by.
The BAI confirmed that there are a number of elements to the UTV Ireland contract granted under section 71 of the Irish Broadcasting Act "which differ from the regulatory regime applied to the public service broadcasters, RTÉ and TG4", plus the commercial channel TV3 and sister station 3e, "specifically in the areas of carriage, content, and levy".
Details on cable (UPC), satellite (Sky Ireland) and terrestrial platforms (Saorview) carriage are yet to be announced. UTV Ireland is not expected to be available on Sky outside of the Irish Republic, due to broadcasting rights issues.