Thursday 29 September 2016

Renamed UTV to launch three new radio stations as ITV deal nears

Margaret Canning

Published 15/01/2016 | 02:30

The sale of television division, including UTV Ireland, to ITV is expected to be completed by the end of February Photo: Jason Alden/Bloomberg
The sale of television division, including UTV Ireland, to ITV is expected to be completed by the end of February Photo: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

UTV will unveil a fresh company name and presenters for its newest radio channels next month as the deal to off-load its TV assets draws closer.

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The media group said in a trading update that the sale of the television division - including UTV Ireland - to ITV will complete by the end of March.

It will generate a windfall of £55m (€73m) for shareholders. The rest of the £98m proceeds will go to pay down debt.

UTV plc will lose the use of the name as part of the deal with ITV but plans to announce a new name in February.

The broadcaster said it hopes to launch three new digital channels over the coming year - talkRADIO, talkSPORT2 and Virgin Radio.

UTV Media plc already has 13 radio stations in Britain and nine on the island of Ireland.

UK-based talkSPORT has been the cash cow of UTV Media plc's radio operation.

In an update to the stock exchange yesterday, UTV said that after the TV disposal, "UTV will be a focused radio group with highly attractive, market-leading assets".

But it said it would be making £3m of cuts, with £1.9m in savings to be found this year, and the remainder "by 2017".

The decision to sell its TV assets followed last year's costly launch of UTV Ireland.

The Dublin-based channel clocked up £13m in losses in its first year for the parent company.

UTV now has new banking arrangements of £30m for the next four years, the update said.

UTV said it does not expect further high-profile resignations after UTV Ireland head Mary Curtis stepped down this week.

Irish Independent

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