ITV has agreed to sell UTV Ireland to Liberty Global’s Virgin Media, for an undisclosed sum.
Virgin Media will also take over a 10-year programme supply agreement with ITV Global Entertainment, whose ITV Studios produces the likes of long-running soap opera Coronation Street and breakfast chat show Good Morning Britain.
UTV Ireland was launched in January 2015, prior to ITV’s acquisition of UTV’s television assets earlier this year for around £100m.
“Launching UTV Ireland last year represented a significant achievement by the teams in Dublin and Belfast in challenging circumstances,” said ITV finance director Christy Swords, adding, “ITV took over the business a few months ago and we’ve concluded that bringing TV3 and UTV Ireland together under common ownership offers the best prospect of delivering a strong and sustainable Irish commercial broadcaster, underpinned by a long-term programming agreement with ITV.”
Liberty Global raised its stake in ITV to 9.9 per cent in 2015 and has recently been expanding in Europe through acquisitions.
The company has denied it is interested in buying ITV, the largest commercial broadcaster in the UK.
The deal is subject to regulatory approval and it’s expected that it will take some months to clear.