Friday 21 October 2016

Virgin Media boss doesn't rule out cuts at 'struggling' UTV Ireland

John Mulgrew

Published 14/10/2016 | 02:30

Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

Virgin Media hopes to complete its takeover of UTV Ireland by the end of the year, its boss has said.

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Speaking to the Irish Independent, Tony Hanway, chief executive of Virgin Media Ireland, didn't rule out cutbacks at the broadcaster, or a move into the North for TV3.

UTV Ireland, the troubled channel launched by Belfast-based UTV, was sold by ITV for €10m (£8.5m), earlier this year to Virgin Media - which already owned TV3.

Launched by then UTV Media chief executive John McCann in January 2015, disappointing audience figures led to it costing UTV Media £13m, four times the original estimate.

"We have been concentrating on getting through the competition process and hopefully are near the last stage," Mr Hanway, inset, said.

The deal to take on UTV Ireland has already cleared the competition authority and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, but is still waiting sign off from the Minister for Communications. Mr Hanway said he hopes to get approval by the end of the year.

"We are delighted... UTV had huge plans in the Republic and it didn't work out. We are very excited, great content and it's the right market."

But he said while not currently in the pipeline, he would consider bringing TV3 to Northern Ireland.

"It's not in the pipeline now, but we have received queries and feedback from's something we would consider, but there are no concrete plans.

"We have to work at things in a phased way... we will always listen to what consumers are saying and mull our options."

Until UTV Ireland was set up, TV3 had shown top ITV programmes like 'Coronation Street' and 'Emmerdale' in the Republic. But Mr Hanway wouldn't say whether the takeover of UTV Ireland would mean a cutback to the combined workforce.

"We have avoided any comment around that... there is no question it has been struggling."

Irish Independent

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